East Carolina University has selected Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton’s Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption for the 2011-2012 Pirate Read common book program!
Incoming first-year students will read Picking Cotton this summer so that they’ll all have the book’s content and context in common with one another, in the classroom and around campus, as soon as they arrive at ECU. That shared reading experience helps “orient students to the academic community by encouraging intellectual dialogue and critical thinking.”
The book will be assigned reading in courses throughout the ECU curriculum, including first-year composition courses and the Freshman Seminar. The Pirate Read committee has identified five themes to encourage and help guide discussion, writing, and other coursework that focuses on Picking Cotton: evidence, sexual assault and gender power issues, racism within the criminal justice system, memory, and forgiveness and recovery.
A series of co-curricular campus and community activities and events related to the book is in the works as well. The authors will visit ECU to speak on campus in October. The Pirate Read will tie in to ECU’s own annual Take Back the Night program, a week-long initiative held on college campuses and in communities nationwide—and around the world—to raise awareness about and take a stand against sexual assault and domestic violence. Learn more about Take Back the Night
Since the first Pirate Read in 2008, a committee of faculty has brainstormed a list of books and made the final selection. This year, the committee expanded their process, accepting book nominations from ECU faculty, staff and students. And, for the first time, current students served on the selection committee; their input made the case that Picking Cotton would be the best summer reading material for their incoming peers.
All five of the nominated books were interesting . . . [Picking Cotton] was the favorite . . . We had students who came back and said, ‘I don’t like to read but I couldn’t put this book down.’
To be considered, nominated titles must meet the Pirate Read committee’s criteria. This year, the committee sought a 300-page book that an 18-year-old could read and understand without guidance, that would promote discussions among readers, that is relevant to current issues, and whose author would be available to come and speak on campus.
Picking Cotton • St. Martin’s Griffin • 320 pages