Did you know that reading for pleasure reduces stress, heightens empathy, improves test scores, slows the onset of dementia, and makes us more active and aware citizens? Reading has been one of my greatest pleasures in life. Since libraries and bookmobiles lend books, reading is free. 

One year when I taught English at Northern Adirondack Central School in Ellenburg Depot, New York, the principal allowed the English teachers to teach an elective course of our choosing. I chose to teach a course titled Reading for Enjoyment because if we find the right book, reading is fun. I wanted to share the pleasure of reading  with my students.

The National Endowment for the Arts annually supports approximately 75 dynamic community reading programs designed around a single NEA Big Read selection. The NEA Big Read is designed to both revive the role of literature in our country’s culture and to encourage Americans to read for pleasure and enjoyment. Wouldn’t it be nice if it also makes us kinder people?

This year in Volusia County, Florida, the NEA Big Read book selection is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I participated in a Panel Discussion: Unraveling the Mystery of Writing sponsored by the Daytona Writers Guild. The panel moderated by Dr. Mary Custureri, was offered for free at the Museum of Arts & Sciences in Daytona Beach. 

On Friday, at 10:30 in the morning, award-winning playwright Ann Magaha will present insights into Ms. Ng’s book. Please join me at the DeLand Regional Library for this event.

The NEA Big Read: Central Florida begins April 1. The NEA Big Read will partner with Central Florida’s Veterans Legacy Program to acknowledge Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. Check out UCF Celebrates the Arts 2020 and your local library to learn about events and activities in Central Florida.

Don’t live in Central Florida? Contact your library to learn what free events are planned to celebrate books and reading in conjunction with the NEA. I’d love to hear what’s happening near you. Reading is free and fun. Please go to my website at Click on Contact Melody and tell me about the book your community has selected and the events which will be offered for free.