Macmillan’s Common Reading March Madness Picks!

Colleges and universities of all sizes in all regions are gearing up for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and Macmillan wants in on the bracketology!

Click for a closer look:

Macmillan is not affiliated with the NCAA, ESPN, or HP. Bracket Source: ESPN

Since I’m all about selecting winning books for common reading, I based my bracket picks on the schools that have adopted Macmillan titles for their programs. When neither school had—at least, not this season!—I went with the lower seed (those picks are noted in black). When Macmillan adopters went head to head, I used seed positions to make my predictions, as well.

I proposed the common reading bracket with tongue in cheek, but my little experiment has been fun and informative. Here we have a whole new perspective on the trends and the diversity in common reading selections at schools across the country.

As you can see, the competitors are very well read!

In the East, Ohio State is the favorite with Elie Wiesel’s Night, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man. First Four victor Clemson has previously adopted Ron Rash’s novel One Foot in Eden, and they’ll be reading his Saints at the River this fall. Common reader MVP No Impact Man is the Fall 2011 book at the University of Kentucky. Nickel and Dimed has been the common reading title at both UNC, Chapel Hill and Syracuse University. The UNC Tarheels have also read Picking Cotton and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, while Syracuse has adopted A Long Way Gone. The University of Washington represents with Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone dominates in the West, where the universities of Texas and Tennessee have both selected the book. Hampton University first-year students have been reading Daniel Black’s They Tell Me of a Home just this year and Temple’s have read Elie Wiesel’s Night. Number two seed San Diego State University has adopted Ray C. Anderson’s Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist.

Next, we go to the Southwest, where Boston University has favorites Nickel and Dimed and A Long Way Gone on its roster. The University of Illinois has also adopted Nickel and Dimed and the University of Akron has chosen A Long Way Gone. Class Matters has been read campus-wide at the University of Richmond, while Saint Peter’s has adopted Night. Florida State students submitted their own “This I Believe” essays when the university picked This I Believe—how many of the Seminoles wrote about basketball?

Finally, in the Southeast, University of Pittsburgh students have read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Utah State has adopted Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Wofford College freshmen have read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden. Students in the University of Wisconsin system, from Parkside to Marathon County, have read everything from This I Believe II to Deep Economy; I hope they’re all united behind the Badgers from Madison! But can sixth-seed Saint John’s take Katharine Weber’s Triangle all the way to the championship?

The Big Dance begins tomorrow—what book are you rooting for?

P.S. For more unconventional bracketology for academics, check out The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Tweed Madness!

Picking Cotton is the First Annual ‘Eagle Read’ at North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University’s 2010-2011 Eagle Reading Experience selection is Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton’s book, Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption.

This is the inaugural year for the Eagle Reading Experience, which is an initiative of NCCU’s Office of Orientation and First-Year Experience.  The program is geared primarily toward first-year students living in residence halls, though transfer students, off-campus residents, and other members of the university community are invited to participate.

Related campus events have included a series of small group discussions, an oratorical contest, and an essay contest. The authors will speak on campus in January 2011.

Sit in on one of the small group discussions about Picking Cotton: NCCU Eagle Reading Experience Discussion on YouTube

The goals of the Eagle Reading Experience are:

  • To provide a common experience for first-year learners who live in the residence halls and to ease the transition into the academic community of NCCU
  • To build an intellectual community among first-year learners, returning students, faculty and staff
  • To help students make connections between classroom and out-of-classroom experiences
  • To engage students in discussions surrounding current societal issues

The common reading program is just one aspect of the extensive and enthusiastic efforts by the Office of Orientation and First-Year Experience to welcome new students and facilitate their transition to the university.  Some of their initiatives include:

  • The NCCU First-Year Blog, co-written by freshman and transfer students who share their own first-year experiences at NCCU
  • The Reel Eagles First-Year Film Showcase, featuring short films made by first-year students about being first-year students
  • The Outstanding First-Year Advocate Award, which recognizes how important, and appreciated, it is to contribute to the collective first-year experience by honoring annually “a faculty or staff member or administrator who has gone above and beyond to ensure student success for undergraduate first-year students and transfers”
  • An active presence on Facebook and Twitter, where they can connect with students in real time and in the students’ own element

Brian Merritt, Associate Director of The Office of Orientation and First-Year Experience, talks about how the group uses social media to achieve its mission to “reach out to prospective and admitted students and ease their transition to the university” in this video: Reaching Prospective Students with Social Media

For more information about Picking Cotton and authors, speakers, and activists Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, click here and visit The Innocence Project.

Picking Cotton • St. Martin’s Griffin • 320 pages

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Selects Picking Cotton for the 2010 Carolina Summer Reading Program

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has selected Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption as the common book for the 2010 Carolina Summer Reading Program!

The book was the unanimous choice of a nine-member selection committee of students, faculty and staff who reviewed books based on the following criteria:

—Intellectually stimulating—stretch students’ minds, cause students to think about things they might not have before
—Enjoyable, engaging, relatively short, easy to read, up-to-date
—Reading that will provoke interesting discussion
—Appropriate for developmental level of incoming students
—Addresses a theme/topic that is applicable to students themselves (i.e., societal issues)

Incoming students will read the book before their freshman orientation.  In the fall, discussion groups will meet in the new students’ dorms as part of the Residential Life orientation program.  Professors will also assign the book  in relevant first-year seminars.

The Carolina Summer Reading Program is designed to provide a common experience for incoming students, to enhance participation in the intellectual life of the campus through stimulating discussion and critical thinking around a current topic, and to encourage a sense of community between students, faculty and staff.

—Office of New Student & Carolina Parent Programs

Topical campus-wide events (film screenings, panel presentations, etc.) to be held during the fall semester are in the works.  One event the University plans to host is a presentation by authors and activists Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, who are both natives of North Carolina.

View the Picking Cotton book trailer:

Click here and visit The Innocence Project to learn more about eyewitness misidentification, which plays a role in more than 75% of the wrongful convictions that are eventually overturned through DNA testing.

In previous summers, UNC at Chapel Hill has adopted Nickel and Dimed and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, both Popular Picks for first-year reading programs.  Visit the Programs page to see lists of other schools that have used those books, and others from Macmillan!

Picking Cotton • St. Martin’s Griffin • 320 pages