PBS Wants YOU to Join THE GREAT AMERICAN READ
– The First-of-Its-Kind National Celebration of Books Combines Original Digital Content, Multi-Platform Resources, National Partnerships and Local Activities Taking Place in Communities Around The Country –
BEVERLY HILLS, CA; JULY 30, 2018 – Something “bookish” is going on, and PBS wants to encourage everyone to be a part of it. Launched this past April and continuing throughout the fall, PBS’ THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is asking people across the country to read, vote and share in the first-ever national campaign to choose “America’s Best-Loved Novel.” In addition to the nationwide reading campaign, the eight-part television series returns to PBS stations on Tuesday, September 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET (check local listings). The campaign encompasses a wide range of community engagement activities, as well as digital and social initiatives, all leading up to an exciting finale airing Tuesday, October 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS stations.
Titles included on the top 100 list of America’s favorite novels run the gamut from modern-day pop-culture hits to beloved children’s classics that have stood the test of time; from science fiction adventures to historic literature written hundreds of years ago; from thrillers that keep us on the edge of our seats to complex personal journeys that raise challenging social issues. THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is one of the most extensive national celebrations of books ever, and it’s just getting started. To date, almost 2 million votes have been cast in America’s search for its “Best-Loved Novel.”
Viewers are currently able to vote for their favorite titles at pbs.org/greatamericanread, through hashtag voting via Facebook and Twitter, and through SMS texting using the dedicated book hashtag that can be found here. In the fall, viewers will also be able to cast their vote toll-free by phone.
“THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is a national celebration of literature and reading on an unprecedented scale, and a forum for the sharing of inspiration, ideas and what it means to be American from various perspectives,” said Bill Gardner, Vice President of Programming & Development for PBS. “We are thrilled that the public has embraced THE GREAT AMERICAN READ in the way that it has. All over the country, people are reading, voting and sharing their passion for their top titles with friends, family and neighbors, attending local events and joining the conversation on our digital platforms. This is exactly what THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is all about.”
“We are elated to see how engaged the American audience has been with THE GREAT AMERICAN READ across all PBS platforms and hope to see the trend continue as we head into the finale this fall,” said Jane Root, Nutopia CEO and founder. “I myself am currently half way through four books on the list I’d never read before - and I love them all. What a joy to make these discoveries. Thank you to everyone who has voted or shown their passion for books in the wonderful reading group.”
To raise awareness and generate participation in THE GREAT AMERICAN READ on a national level, PBS has engaged key partners, including the Library of Congress, the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Partner activities have included reading and screening events, branded displays, voting stations and forging local partnerships with PBS stations. In addition, under the banner of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, PBS has partnered with First Book, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster to provide book donations across the country through local PBS member stations.
Locally, PBS stations are offering events and educational opportunities related to THE GREAT AMERICAN READ in communities from coast to coast. Throughout the summer and leading up to the grand finale, more than two dozen PBS member stations will host over 125 literary-themed events to connect families to THE GREAT AMERICAN READ through hands-on activities, with stations such as Detroit Public Television, Nashville Public Television, WNET in New York, WETA in Washington, DC, and WUCF in Orlando leading the charge. These events include book clubs, author appearances and readings, screenings, book-themed family activities and more. For example, Detroit’s literary social media series, “PBS Books,” is broadening the reach of some of the nation’s biggest book festivals in support of THE GREAT AMERICAN READ. Nashville and WUCF are leveraging their already robust community partnerships and sharing best practices with colleagues across public media. WNET will utilize its content-sharing platform, Wavelength, to make customizable companion programs for THE GREAT AMERICAN READ. Throughout the fall, PBS will continue to work with stations across the country to develop resources that will encourage, promote and support the local initiatives that are taking root nationwide.
New original digital content inspired by THE GREAT AMERICAN READ includes two new Facebook Watch miniseries from the award-winning PBS Digital Studios. Hosted by Lindsay Ellis, IT’S LIT is a six-episode limited series of video essays that celebrates the role of books in popular culture and explores why Americans love to read. The series maximizes Facebook’s community features to drive conversation and commentary in a shareable and engaging way. READ AWAKENING is a four-part literary variety show that blends comedy, music and more, hosted by Dominique Taylor and produced with funding support from Black Public Media. Described as a modern version of the hit children’s series READING RAINBOW, READ AWAKENING features enlightening conversations about books, influencers and trends within the literary community. More than 900,000 people follow PBS Digital Studios content across its six active Facebook Watch pages. The content has generated more than 1.8 million shares and produces 2 million average monthly views.
The fun continues across PBS’ social media platforms, where readers are encouraged to share their personal connections to the titles on the top 100 list and beyond. PBS’ Facebook book club dedicated to THE GREAT AMERICAN READ has more than 36,000 members, and over 333,000 people have completed the quiz about how many of the 100 books they’ve read. Since THE GREAT AMERICAN READ website launched, it has received over 5 million page views, and more than 3,000 people have submitted personal stories about their favorite novels. In addition, THE GREAT AMERICAN READ has more than 150,000 followers across its dedicated social pages, and more than 90,000 people have signed up to receive THE GREAT AMERICAN READ newsletter to stay up to date with the program’s latest developments.
This fall, PBS will also offer PreK-12 teachers an easy way to integrate THE GREAT AMERICAN READ into their instruction with a range of curriculum-aligned videos and interactive lesson plans. Teachers can use these resources to enhance homework assignments and kick-start classroom discussions. THE GREAT AMERICAN READ collection is currently available on PBS LearningMedia. In addition, this fall, PBS Digital Innovators will host three Virtual Professional Learning Events for teachers, PBS Education will host a similar event aimed at educators of early childhood learners and PBS TeacherLine will offer several courses for early childhood educators who teach young readers.
To complement THE GREAT AMERICAN READ, PBS KIDS is hosting “PBS KIDS Read” as part of the annual summer learning initiative for children ages 2-8 and their families. Available on PBS Parents, “PBS KIDS Read” encourages reading and related activities through a variety of resources for kids and parents, including book lists, tips for new readers and other literacy resources.
Funding for THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is provided by The Anne Ray Foundation and PBS. In addition, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has provided grants, in partnership with PBS, to public media stations across the country to create local content and host screenings and forums to encourage summer reading and participation in the initiative.
THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is a production of Nutopia for PBS. The program is executive produced by Jane Root, Michael Cascio, Bob Kirsh and Charles Marquardt; co-executive produced by Rebecca Ratliff Cameron; line produced by Rachael Jerahian; and produced by Nilam Agrawal-Desai, Katherine Linton, Kate Chumley, Justine Simonson, Michelle Smawley, Siobhan Lockhart, Annie Wong and Tomek Gross. Bill Gardner, Vice President of Programming and Development, is executive in charge for PBS, and Bethany Latham is project director.
Amplifying the on-air and online series content will be a fully illustrated companion book, The Great American Read: The Book of Books, which will include information about the 100 novels, author profiles, rare images of original manuscripts and more, plus a foreword by THE GREAT AMERICAN READ host Meredith Vieira, to be published by Black Dog & Leventhal and made available on Tuesday, August 21.
Nutopia is a leading television production company creating innovative, award-winning, premium content on a global scale. Founded in 2008 by Jane Root, former President of Discovery Channel US, Controller of BBC2 and co-founder of Wall to Wall TV, Nutopia created the ‘mega doc’ model, blending huge scale history series and high-profile talent from the worlds of documentary and drama. In 2017, the company entered in to a creative partnership with Academy Award®-nominated feature film producers Roast Beef. Nutopia has become synonymous with creating high quality content that stands out from the crowd, working with some of the most prominent global broadcasters including Netflix, CNN, National Geographic, the BBC, PBS and A+E Networks. Critical successes include the Emmy Award-winning series HOW WE GOT TO NOW; two seasons of ratings smash FINDING JESUS. FAITH. FACT. FORGERY; Emmy Award-winning series AMERICA THE STORY OF US and MANKIND THE STORY OF ALL OF US. Upcoming projects include THE LAST CZARS and BABIES for Netflix.
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