NEA Big Read: Des Moines

NEA Big Read: Des Moines

Last spring, the library was one of 84 nonprofits, public libraries, and community organizations nationwide to receive a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read grant. The NEA Big Read program, managed by Arts Midwest, aims to inspire conversation and discovery through conversation and programming about a common book. The Des Moines Public Library selected Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, for discussion in our community.

After a significant delay as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the library is pleased to announce Big Read: Des Moines events will take place this fall.

“The Des Moines Public Library is thrilled to be a recipient of this prestigious grant and are excited to finally get to bring these programs and events to our communities after a delay,” Susan A. Woody, DMPL Director, said. Several weeks of programs will “engage the community in dialogue and conversation around this important, timeless work of literature,” Woody said.

With the grant, the library, in partnership with the Des Moines Public Library Foundation and various community collaborators, will guide the Des Moines community through a community reading program.

The Des Moines Public Library chose Fahrenheit 451 for a number of reasons, including: to encourage the reading of classic works of literature; and to explore themes in the novel still relevant today on the conflict between free expression and censorship, the value of authentic human interaction, the role technology plays in people’s lives, and more. Programs and discussions will also explore how the themes of the book can and should be updated and modernized to include more inclusive viewpoints and characters.

The schedule of events includes:

Keynote Addresses

Ray Bradbury and Fahrenheit 451: A Retrospective
Wednesday, September 29 | 7:00 PM | Zoom (registration required)

Giving Ourselves Superpowers (with Juan Pablo Hourcade)
Thursday, October 7 | 6:30 PM | Zoom (registration required)


Fahrenheit 451 Book Discussions


Readalike Book Discussion: Parable of the Sower


Teens and Adults Banned Book Discussion: Verify by Joelle Charbonneau

  • Zoom: Thursday, October 7, 5:30 PM (registration required)


Fahrenheit 451 Film Screening


Fire Safety Storytimes


Other Activities

Take-And-Make Art Bags
Thursday, September 30 | Ages 5-18 | Central Library