January 13, 2021



CONTACT: Rollah Aston, Chairman, Roswell Big Read Committee, 575-626-2373





Roswell to Read and Celebrate ‘Into the Beautiful North’

From January 23-March 20


Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell has received a $15,000 grant to host the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read in Roswell. An Arts Endowment initiative in partnership with Arts Midwest, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. ENMU-Roswell is one of 84 nonprofit organizations selected to receive an NEA Big Read grant to support a community reading program. The NEA Big Read in Roswell will focus on the novel, Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea.  Activities will kick off on Saturday, January 23 and continue through March 20.


ENMU-Roswell is partnering with a number of community organizations to coordinate the Big Read project. These include Roswell Public Library, Friends of the Roswell Public Library, Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art, Roswell Museum and Art Center, Roswell Independent School District, Hispano Chamber of Commerce, and the Roswell Literacy Council to ensure that participation in these events are a community-wide affair.


“It has been over ten years since Roswell has participated in a Big Read program,
said Rollah Aston, Chairman, Roswell Big Read Committee. Aston recently retired from his position as Director of the Learning Resource Center at ENMU-Roswell after 30 years of service.  “The purpose of NEA Big Read grants is to promote literacy in a given community and also cohesiveness by having as many people as possible reading and discussing a chosen book. A series of related events and activities will include a number of book discussions, music and dance performances, participation in a Main Street Roswell First Friday, movie showings and a virtual appearance by Mr. Urrea himself. Other area and regional authors and educators will lead book discussions on similar themes to Mr. Urrea’s book. We are distributing multiple copies of the book at various businesses and organizations around town. There will be versions in both English and Spanish available.”


ENMU-Roswell students in English classes, and RISD students will be reading the book during the spring semester. Information on and links to Roswell’s Big Read events and activities will also be posted on ENMU-Roswell’s website, and on the campus and Big Read Facebook pages, along with other social media sites.


“We have become even more aware this year of the important ways the arts help us connect with others, and how they bring meaning, joy, and comfort to our lives,” said Mary Anne Carter, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. “By bringing the NEA Big Read to Roswell, ENMU-Roswell will provide opportunities for deep discussion and ways to help us better understand one another.”


The Roswell Big Read Committee selected Into the Beautiful North after reviewing 32 books on the NEA’s Big Read list for the 2020-2021 academic year. The novel, which blends humor and pathos, is a tale that begins in a small town in Sinaloa, Mexico and encompasses adventures and experiences by the main characters in Tia Juana, San Diego and as far away as Kankakee, Illinois. The novel’s themes of friendship, loyalty, perseverance, cross border issues, survival instincts and using one’s innate talents to ultimately thrive offer a variety of opportunities for community events.


“We are honored to continue our partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts on this incredible program,” said Torrie Allen, president & CEO of Arts Midwest. “For more than 14 years this national effort has invested in communities as they gather to discuss the stories and ideas that connect us to one another. We are especially inspired by the projects and organizations that are finding new, virtual ways of creating those connections with their communities and are thrilled to support them at this critical time.”



Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,600 NEA Big Read programs, providing more than $22 million to organizations nationwide. Over the past thirteen years, grantees have leveraged more than $50 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 5.7 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 91,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 39,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible. For more information about the NEA Big Read, including book and author information, podcasts, and videos, visit arts.gov/neabigread