NEA Big Read at UCF • Jan 11–Feb 23, 2021

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

The NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. This year the NEA Big Read: Central Florida is pleased to celebrate Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. Read the press release.

NEA Big Read is designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.

Organizers from the School of Visual Arts and Design, School of Performing Arts, the UCF Art Gallery, and the Africana Studies program have planned more than 20 events related to this year’s novel, including discussions, an art exhibit and a programming related to Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

Seminole County Public Libraries will host daytime and evening book-discussion groups at each of its five branches, for a total of 10 book clubs this year. Additional book clubs are planned at the Orlando Museum of Art, the UCF Africana Studies program, Black Man’s Candor, Afro Artistry, and Lake Correctional Institution.

Printable Events Flyer

Silver Sparrow cover

Kick Off Event • Monday, January 11, 1 – 3 p.m. EST

John C. Hitt Library

Pick up your complimentary copy of Tayari Jones’s Silver Sparrow and learn more about how you can participate in the NEA Big Read: Central Florida. Tables will be located at both entrances to the John C. Hitt Library (near the Reflecting Pond and at the Student Union plaza).

Norwood Flowers Sculpture

But Before Bone is Skin • January 11 – February 5

UCF Art Gallery Gallery hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Fri 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Hosted by the UCF Art Gallery and curated by Jonell Logan, creative director for the McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte, NC, But Before Bone is Skin. is inspired by the themes of Silver Sparrow and features the work of five BIPOC artists whose works explore the spaces of womanhood. This exhibition is on view both in-person and online. 

View Exhibition Catalog

Jonell Logan

Keynote Address: Jonell Logan • Friday, January 22, 6 p.m. EST

via Zoom

Jonell Logan is an independent curator, arts advocate and creative director for the McColl Center for Art + Innovation in Charlotte, NC. She will discuss the relationship between the visual and literary arts, Silver Sparrow and the ways in which the novel’s themes informed her selection of artists and artworks for inclusion in But Before Bone is Skin.

Watch the Keynote

Thompson Summoning the Storm

Artist Panel • Thursday, January 28, 6 p.m. EST

via Zoom

But Before Bone is Skin contributing artists Yanique Norman, Sharon Norwood, Melissa Alexander, Shanequa Gay and Zipporah Camille Thompson discuss their artwork and how the themes of Silver Sparrow inspired their work. Discussion moderated by Shannon Lindsey and Jonell Logan.

Watch The Panel

Tayari Jones

A Conversation with Tayari Jones • Tuesday, February 23, 7 p.m. EST

via Zoom

Tayari Jones, award-winning author of Silver Sparrow, talks about her career journey, writing process and themes of her novels. Jones is a New York Times best-selling author of four novels. Her most recent novel, An American Marriage is an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and appeared on Barack Obama’s summer reading list and year-end roundup. Moderated by UCF English lecturer Jason Gregory ’19MFA, the event will conclude with an audience Q&A.

Register Now

2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of Tayari Jones’ award-winning novel, Silver Sparrow. Jones’ book … offers an excellent opportunity for UCF to bring impactful programs that celebrate the role of literature in our community. Our programming will coincide with UCF’s celebration of Black History Month, and we are working with Africana Studies to bring the Big Read to a new campus audience.

Keri Watson, Director of the NEA Big Read: Central Florida

Reading Resources

Interested in hosting a virtual book club? Want to learn more about the book?
NEA Big Read provides author commentary, reading and teaching guides and more.

NEA Book Resources


Seminole County Public Library book clubs will read and discuss Silver Sparrow. All clubs and discussions will take place via Zoom and are free and open to the public.

SCPL Central Branch (Casselberry) – Tuesday, February 2nd  at 6:30 p.m. or Wednesday, February 17th  at 10:00 a.m.

SCPL East Branch (Oviedo) – Wednesday, February 3rd  at 4:00 p.m. or Tuesday, February 9th  at 1:00 p.m.

SCPL West Branch (Wekiva/Longwood) – Wednesday, February 3rd  at  6:30 p.m.

SCPL North Branch (Sanford) – Wednesday, February 10th  at 6:30 p.m.

SPCL Northwest Branch (Lake Mary) – Tuesday, February 23rd  at 12:30 p.m.

SCPL West Branch (Wekiva/Longwood) – Wednesday February 17th at 6:30 p.m.
This non-fiction book club will discuss The Milkman’s Son  by Randy Lindsay as a complimentary title to Silver Sparrow.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.