Ivy Tech hosting “Now Read This! Community Book Read,” offering chance at $1,000 scholarship

Ivy Tech Community College–Northeast is launching its third-annual community reading initiative, Now Read This! 2013. Residents of northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio are encouraged to read, discuss and respond creatively to “The Story of Beautiful Girl” by Rachel Simon.

This community book read, to be conducted during the next several months, promotes literacy, dialogue about the literary work and the enjoyment of reading the same book as a community.

Ivy Tech−Northeast will also award one or more scholarships worth up to $1,000 for the best creative responses to the book. Entries can include essays, music, dance, multimedia and visual art submissions. Visit ivytech.edu/northeast/read for more information about the scholarship competition. The deadline for submissions is March 8, 2013.

Simon is the critically acclaimed author of six books, including “Riding the Bus with My Sister,” which was adapted into a TV movie in 2005 that starred actress/comedian Rosie O’Donnell. “The Story of Beautiful Girl” focuses on characters with disabilities, as it features the adventures and sometimes tragic events surrounding Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man. Both are left to languish in the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded until they escape the institution—with Lynnie’s newborn baby in tow. The three are aided by Martha, a widowed schoolteacher, who befriends them and hides the baby from law enforcement authorities and officials at the institution. This friendship begins a 40-year epic journey of lives that are divided but come together to make a compelling tale of those who are frequently forgotten or ignored in American society.

The community book read will begin with a creative writing workshop, book-signing and reading by Simon at 5 p.m. Nov. 2 at the college’s Keith E. Busse Steel Dynamics Technology Center on the North Campus (4900 St. Joe Road) in Room 1225. Creative writers at the high school level and beyond (including all teaching faculty) are invited to attend and participate in this interactive writing workshop, which is at 5 p.m. The author will introduce some creative writing activities and discuss her own writing process. The book-signing and reading will begin at 7 p.m.

Paperback copies of “The Story of Beautiful Girl”and “Riding the Bus with My Sister” are available for purchase at the college’s bookstore, The New Edition Bookstore, on the North Campus in lower level of Harshman Hall. Copies will also be available on loan or for purchase at Ivy Tech’s library on the Coliseum Campus (3800 N. Anthony Blvd.), several area libraries, and other area bookstores.

Contact English instructors Gail Grieser at 260-481-2283 or ggrieser@ivytech.edu or Susan Howard at 260-481-2203 or showard62@ivytech.edu for more information about Now Read This! 2013.

Visit ivytech.edu/northeast/locations for directions to Ivy Tech’s North Campus.

About Rachel Simon
Simon is a best-selling author, public speaker and advocate on helping people with disabilities. “Like many siblings of people with disabilities, I first heard about institutions as a young child,” Simon writes. “My sister, Beth, had an intellectual disability, and my parents would talk about how some children like Beth were ‘put away’ in institutions. They didn’t elaborate but were emphatic that Beth would not live in one.” This piqued Simon’s curiosity about such facilities and informs her latest book, “The Story of Beautiful Girl.” It is the story of two patients from the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded and the people who either aid or take advantage of them.

While some of the antagonists of the book are officials from the mental institution, some are heroes. Kate is one such staff person. “I’d known several direct support professionals (DSPs) through my sister, and I had a lot of respect for them. I’d also come to realize they tend to be misunderstood, maligned or unacknowledged in most books, so for years I’d had a side project of collecting their stories,” she has said. “I learned that the best DSPs are deeply dedicated to the individuals they serve and strive to support them in the choices they make to live, work and participate in the community.” While there is a decline in mental institutions in the United States, Simon cautions that “institutions are not a thing of the past.”

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