Make Your Home Among Strangers is Northern Illinois University’s 2017-19 Common Reading Experience Book!

Make Your Home Among Strangers

Northern Illinois University has selected Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Crucet for their 2017-19 Common Reading Experience program!

First-year students enrolled in UNIV 101 (University Experience), transfer students enrolled in UNIV 201 (Transfer Experience), and many of the First-Year Composition courses are required to read Make Your Home Among Strangers this semester. Faculty in other disciplines, such as English, Communications, and Sociology, have also adopted the book as part of their course-required readings this fall. Make Your Home Among Strangers will also be required reading for incoming first-year students enrolled in UNIV 101 and UNIV 201 during the 2018-19 academic year.

Beyond the classroom, NIU will host a variety of free programs and events around the novel throughout the semester. These events include an open mic night where attendees are encouraged to share their stories addressing the meaning of “home” (October 11); a campus visit from author Jennine Capó Crucet (October 17); a book discussion with NIU’s College of Law built around the novel’s theme of immigration and what that means in the age of the Travel Ban (October 26); and an essay contest open to all first-year students. During Crucet’s campus visit, students will have the opportunity to attend a book discussion with Crucet, attend a community reception where they will be able to meet the author, and watch Crucet give a presentation on her novel.

Northern Illinois University’s Common Reading Experience program selects a book that will be used for two years, in order to facilitate ongoing discussions among first-year and second-year students, as well as throughout the campus community. The primary goals of the program are to:

  • Establish a common, educationally-purposeful experience among first-year students to foster community
  • Provide new students with the opportunity to begin exploring new perspectives and ways of viewing the world
  • Orient new students to critical thinking and the spirit of intellectual inquiry.

Make Your Home Among Strangers was selected by a committee comprised of faculty, staff, community members, and students from a list of approximately twenty titles. The book was ultimately selected because it tackles many themes that are relevant to first-year students at NIU, such as social justice, diversity, immigration, ethics, leaving home, socioeconomic status, and first-generation student experiences. “Although Make Your Home Among Strangers is a work of fiction . . . I think it will be particularly impactful for first-generation students at NIU because they will be able to relate to Lizet’s journey as she deals with the different aspects of transitioning to college in an unfamiliar environment,” said Lauren Napolitano, associate director of the First- and Second-Year Experience. “A lot of the issues Lizet struggles with in her first year at college are the same issues our first-generation students are facing here at NIU.”

Click here to see other schools that have adopted Make Your Home Among Strangers. Visit our Popular Picks page for more common reading options from Macmillan!

Make Your Home Among Strangers • Picador • 416 pages

 

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CITIZEN is the 2017-18 Common Book at the University of Kansas!

Citizen

The University of Kansas has selected Citizen by Claudia Rankine as their 2017-18 KU Common Book!

All incoming first-year students received copies of the book at orientation during the school’s welcome week. Common Book events will be held throughout the academic year to enable continued community-wide discussions. Group discussions around Citizen began on August 20, where returning student leaders, faculty, and staff members met with new students and engaged with the core themes of the book.

Claudia Rankine will visit campus to discuss Citizen on September 7, 2017, at 7 p.m. at KU’s Lied Center for “An Evening with Claudia Rankine.” Following this event, Rankine will be back on campus on September 8 at 10 a.m. in Woodruff Auditorium for a Q&A session. Other scheduled Common Book events include a special art exhibition at the Spencer Museum of Art that is in conversation with Citizen; a screening of “Whose Streets,” a film that focuses on the events that followed the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, at the Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium on September 13; and a campus community panel and discussion of Citizen on October 25.

Citizen was selected by the Common Book Selection Committee because it is an accessible yet dynamic text that is both relevant within the current cultural moment and also amendable to diverse analyses. “The notions of citizenship and identity loom at the forefront of ongoing debates,” explained Cécile Accilien, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and a member of the KU Common Book Selection Committee. “Rankine skillfully and carefully weaves a tapestry of powerful images moving through various genres ranging from poetry to YouTube videos to expose the violence that many people of color around the globe face on a daily basis.”

To better facilitate discussions around racial issues raised in the book, KU also sought to equip its faculty and staff with the tools to create safe spaces that encourage conducive debates. To fulfill this aim, the university organized two workshops for instructors who plan to use this book; these workshops were run by Dr. Siobhan Scarry, Professor of English at Bethel College, who has written extensively on how Citizen can be used in classrooms. Howard Graham, who leads the KU Common Book program, followed the workshops with an interview with Dr. Scarry where she discussed how she incorporated the book into her own classroom. The Office of First-Year Experience also intends to develop guides and assignments during the spring semester for faculty who are interested in using Citizen in their classroom.

The goal behind the KU Common Book is to engage first-year students in campus wide, topical discussions that allow students, faculty, and staff to build a community and create a shared academic experience. “By reading Citizen, new students will become part of important conversations at KU about how we decrease and eliminate microaggressions and help one another to thrive,” said Sarah Crawford-Parker, Assistant Vice Provost for the First-Year Experience.

The Common Book initiative is a key component of KU’s “Bold Aspirations,” which seeks to share intellectual experiences that invite analysis, foster critical thinking, and reflect the type of reasoned discourse that is expected at the college level. Books are nominated throughout the year by the KU community at large, shortlisted by the Steering Committee, and finally selected by the Selection Committee. Both of these committees include faculty, staff, and KU students. Although the primary focus of the Common Book initiative is to include and acclimate first-year and transfer students to life at KU, all students, and faculty and staff members can participate in the discussions.

Click here to see other schools that have adopted Citizen. Visit our Popular Picks page for more common reading options from Macmillan!

Citizen • Graywolf Press • 160 pages