by Charles Portis
If somebody offers you a free book next month, take it. Take it, that is, if it’s Charles Portis’ classic, True Grit, because that’s the 2015 pick for Big D Reads, the annual event that aims to put a classic novel for young people in the hands of every ninth-grade student in the Dallas Independent School District during the month of April.
Last year, volunteers book bombed copies of the 2014 Big D Reads pick to DART passengers. This year, the organization plans to distribute 20,000 copies of the current pick, True Grit, to students, DART riders, visitors in hospital waiting rooms, and at all branches of the Dallas Public Library system.
The event starts with a Paint the Town Well-Read light show in downtown Dallas beginning at 8 pm. Wednesday, April 1. Look up, take a picture of the city skyline as the Omni Hotel, Bank of America, Reunion Tower and Hunt Building participate in the light show.
Then check out Dallas library branches for additional activities during the month. Guess the number of grits, check out books, pick up some great recipes for grits, and more. See http://bigreaddallas for a complete schedule of activities.
Need more incentive? The Alamo Draft House in Richardson, Texas, will offer a $4 showing of the 1969 film based on the novel, Monday, April 6, at 7:45 p.m. See http://drafthouse.com/dfw for ticket reservations.
Big D Reads is underwritten by D Magazine and organized by its arts leadership group, D Academy to address a national decline in literary reading, especially among young people. D Academy has raised enough money to buy 17,000 of the books it hopes to distribute this year. It’s hoping for donors, through the Big D Reads site, to pledge the $5 it takes to put a book in the hands of a Dallas student.
Arkansas journalist/novelist Charles Portis’ True Grit is the story of 14-year-old Mattie Ross, seeking to avenge the murder of her father at the hands of outlaw drifter Tom Chaney. Mattie arrives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the late 19th century to claim her father’s body and track down the killer. It was Mattie’s perseverance¾ her grit¾ and the exploration of what “true grit” means, that prompted its pick for this year’s Big D Reads.
Well, that’s the good news on the reading front in Dallas. The bad news is that the city is losing still another independent book store venue, Lucky Dog Books. After losing the lease at its Oak Cliff location, 633 W. Davis, the store needs help packing its thousands of books on its last day of business¾ today. For every half hour of work, Lucky Dogs will offer a $5 in-store credit good at the Oak Cliff location or either of its two remaining outlets, 10801 Garland Road in Dallas and Paperbacks Plus, 108 E. Davis in Mesquite. It’s open until 9 p.m. today. For more information and ways to help, see