The Big Read: Big program coming up this fall in White Center, SeaTac, and Tukwila

Announced today by the county library system:

The King County Library System (KCLS) will host a community-wide Big Read program this fall to explore and discuss the immigrant experience in the communities of SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center.

With more than 60% of the population being persons of color, 30% foreign born, 40% speaking a language other than English at home, and more than 70 languages represented in the area’s school districts, SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center are the most diverse in King County.

Immigrants and refugees have contributed to King County’s sweeping demographic change in the last 20 years. In these neighborhoods, the increase in immigrant-owned businesses, religious centers, and organizations addressing new residents’ unique needs, has generated cultural division and tension as well as great opportunities for building cultural awareness and new social competencies.

Presented by KCLS, the Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), Highline Public Schools, Highline College, King County Housing Authority, and the White Center Community Development Association/White Center Promise, The Big Read will engage residents in conversations about their experiences, and give the entire community a welcoming and safe environment to explore issues that are close to home in these areas, including gentrification and racial tension.

The program will begin this fall, offering free copies of the novel The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears to encourage all residents to read the book and join in the conversation. Author Dinaw Mengestu drew on his own experience having fled Ethiopia to The Other Washington: D.C.

The community read and related activities will begin a cross-cultural dialogue about how we are different, but more importantly, our common experiences and desires for a thriving community.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, designed to revitalize the role of reading in American culture by exposing citizens to great works of literature and encouraging them to read for pleasure and enrichment. King County’s southwest corridor is one of 75 communities nationwide participating in The Big Read from September 2015-June 2016. The national Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest.

For more information, please contact Jo Anderson Cavinta 425-369-3454. This fall, there will be a full calendar of events for The Big Read in SeaTac, Tukwila, and White Center available online at

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