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Activity Sheets for Children

PLS would like to offer children some fun resources to accompany the Little Read theme. Patrons can print off the following activity sheets as an exciting way for children to explore parts of the wild west through word searchs, mad libs, anagrams, coloring, mazes, and more!

Wild West Activity Page One | Wild West Activity Page Two

NEA Continues Support of the Arts through Big Read

Since its establishment by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts has nearly half a century of supporting the arts through financial assistance of more than $4 billion via partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders and philanthropists throughout the United States.

In 2007, the NEA launched a specific push to revitalize the study and celebration of literature with its campaign, The Big Read. The campaign, managed by Arts Midwest, provides competitive grants to support innovative reading programs in selected communities. In each case, communities will select one book as a central focus for programming, book discussions and other activities.

There are 36 selections from literature in The Big Read library, chosen by a group of experts.

Read more: NEA Continues Support of the Arts through Big Read

Warren Theatre, Cinema Centre 8 host movie nights for PLS Big Read

The Pioneer Library System's annual PLS Big Read is taking readers to the Wild West through the words of author Charles Portis and his novel "True Grit."

The novel also inspired two notable film versions – the 1969 classic starring the legendary John Wayne, and a 2010 remake starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin and produced by Joel and Ethan Coen.

Read more: Warren Theatre, Cinema Centre 8 host movie nights for PLS Big Read

The 2015 Big Read

A Wizard of Earthsea
by Ursula Le Guin

The 2015 Big Read Title

Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea is the first of six Earthsea Cycle titles.

The novel shares the story of Ged, the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, who was known as "Sparrowhawk" as a reckless youth. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the exciting tale of his journey to manhood as he masters the words of power, tames a dragon, and restores balance to the world.

Look for more information about the 2015 Big Read events and programs coming to your hometown library.




An Illustration of Earthsea: A Contest for Artists and Illustrators


The contest is open to anyone who has a library card with the Pioneer Library System.

To be eligible for a card, you must live, work, attend school, or own property in Cleveland, McClain, or Pottawatomie County in Oklahoma. You are also eligible for a card with the Pioneer Library System if you qualify for a card with the Metropolitan Library System.

To apply for a library card, visit a library of the Pioneer Library System or fill out the online application to apply for a library card.

The contest will be conducted under the auspices of the Pioneer Library System Foundation.

The contest is divided into three categories (age categories are based on age at time of submission):

Student ages 8-18;
Adult ages 19 and older;
Employees of the Pioneer Library System

Works produced through participation in a library-sponsored The Big Read workshop or class are eligible for submission in the contest.

Professional artists and illustrators are encouraged to enter the contest.

Digital images of the contest entries become the property of the Pioneer Library System and may be used in promotion and advertising of The Big Read: A Wizard of Earthsea and related activities. Artists maintain ownership and rights to the original artwork. Artists selected for inclusion in The Big Read Art Show agree to loan the original pieces for display.

Read more: An Illustration of Earthsea: A Contest for Artists and Illustrators

Quick Start to Fantasy Art

If you’d like to try your hand at fantasy art and aren’t sure where to start, why not try the library’s collection?  We have many books that can teach you to create art – everything from watercolor painting to amigurumi (Japanese-style little crocheted stuffed animals) to iPad art techniques!   

Watercolor PaintingWatercolor Painting: a Comprehensive Approach to Mastering the Medium by Tom Hoffman
ANF 751.422 HO

Hoffman not only gives lessons on techniques, but tries to leave readers with the skills to continue to improve their work. He offers insight about general painting techniques such as composition and choosing the right subject, as well as instruction on watercolor-specific techniques. 


Amigurumi WorldAmigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet by Ana Paula Rimoli
ANF 746.434 RI

Here are over twenty cute and quirky designs you can use and customize, as well as insight into how to make your own creations.  There's everything from an octopus family to an apple with a worm in it!  As a bonus: once you learn the techniques here, the internet is full of examples of figures to try.  

Read more: Quick Start to Fantasy Art

Little Read

While adults and teens read True Grit and participate in discussions about this novel of the Old West, children may participate in the Little Read. The Little Read for 2014 will include book discussion kits of books that follow an aspect of the theme of True Grit. Each kit includes 12 books, book discussion questions, and activities. These items are available to the branch libraries for children's programs in conjunction with the adult Big Read.

They will be available to the general public for check out through the library catalog this summer. Check the online library calendar or contact your hometown library for Little Read programs in your area.

Wagon WheelsWagon Wheels by Barbara Brenner

After the civil war, the Muldie boys and their father travel a long way to settle in the black community of Nicodemus, Kansas. Not satisfied with the land of Kansas, Daddy moves on to find a better place to farm. The three boys care for each other until their father sends for them when they make a dangerous journey to reunite with their father.

Read more: Little Read

Judge Parker and His Marshals

Isaac C. Parker was appointed United States District Judge for the Western District of Arkansas in 1875, a post he would hold for more than 21 years.  Parker’s jurisdiction was extraordinary, encompassing half of Arkansas and all of Indian Territory, roughly 74,000 square miles. In this huge area, the court exercised jurisdiction over all criminal cases. Until 1891, the judgments of the court were final, with no appeal from a conviction.

Read more: Judge Parker and His Marshals

What a Trouble it Was to Make a Book

Written by Dr. Steve Garrison from the University of Central Oklahoma

An adventurous adolescent cut loose from parental supervision and a work-hardened adult, major characters in a celebrated novel, embark together on a dangerous quest through the wild and woolly landscape of 19th Century America, facing adventures both funny and harrowing that reveal their character, forge a bond of friendship between them, and crystallize a handful of facts about the early days of the nation.  Quick, what novel did I just describe?  It’s probably inevitable, when savoring the achievement of Charles Portis’s True Grit, one of the most successful American novels published in the Twentieth Century, to compare its features with those of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, perhaps the most famous of all American novels and a perennial contender for the frayed title of the Great American Novel. 

Whatever else we can say about them, certainly both books owe much of their success to their authors’ inspired handling of point of view.  A brief comparison of the perspectives dramatized in Huck Finn and in True Grit reveals something of the two books’ complementary goals.

Read more: What a Trouble it Was to Make a Book

Big Read Entertainment

This year's PLS Big Read will bring that same sort of entertainment and education to readers in Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie counties. It will feature scholar-led book discussions in all 10 communities with hometown libraries, as well as such events as children's story times on western themed books, craft programs, a special quilting series at the Blanchard Public Library and more.

And "True Grit" lovers from all across the state are invited to attend the following events of broad interest, each offered free of charge:

The library presents a Bold Talk scholar panel discussion at 7 p.m., Friday, March 14, at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. The book discussion of "True Grit" features UCO English professor Steve Garrison, PLS Local History and Genealogy Library Kathryn Ramsay, and Oklahoma Poet Laureate Nathan Brown.

Read more: Big Read Entertainment

Get Ready for Some "Bold Talk" in PLS Big Read Discussion

The Pioneer Library System is ready to offer some “Bold Talk” as part of this year’s commemoration of the PLS Big Read.

The scholar panel discussion “Bold Talk at the FJJMA” will focus on the Charles Portis classic True Grit, the selection for this year’s eighth edition of the PLS Big Read, and begins at 7 p.m. Friday, March 14, at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, 555 Elm Ave., on the University of Oklahoma campus.

Panelists for the discussion are University of Central Oklahoma English professor Steve Garrison, an expert on the work of Portis; Pioneer Library System Local History and Genealogy Library Kathryn Ramsay; and Oklahoma Poet Laureate Nathan Brown. The moderator is attorney and musician Bob French, who has worked with the library on past Big Read programming.

Read more: Get Ready for Some "Bold Talk" in PLS Big Read Discussion

The "True" True Grit Documentary

The Pioneer Library System and The University of Oklahoma teamed up to produce an informative documentary about The West featured in Charles Portis' "True Grit."



Michael Chabon Visit

Save the Date

Michael ChabonAuthor Michael Chabon will visit the Pioneer Library System in March as part of the 2015 Big Read. Mark your calendars and check here for more infomation as the events draw closer. 

March 25
PRIVATE Reception for Foundation Donors

March 26
Presentation at OBU during the day with book signing
Presentation at OU Sam Noble Museum of Natural History in the evening with book signing


Read more: Michael Chabon Visit

The Novel

True Grit is an adventure story.

Portis’ novel is narrated in the first person by Mattie Ross, a thrifty, churchgoing spinster distinguished by a rare independence and strength of mind. In keeping with Mattie's worldview, the story is replete with Biblical motifs, especially the “eye for an eye” style of justice. As an old woman in the year 1928, she tells the story of her adventures many years earlier, when, at the age of fourteen, she undertook a quest to avenge her father’s death at the hands of a drifter named Tom Chaney.

Read more: The Novel

This Year's Big Read

"People do not give credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day."

Join us in reading the 2014 Big Read pick, True Grit by Charles Portis. Take an adventure with 14 year old Mattie Ross and one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest U.S. Marshal, as they travel through 19th century Indian Territory (including modern day Oklahoma) to track down Tom Chaney and avenge her father's death.

The True Grit Big Read will have a different structure and feel than the seven previous Big Reads. This one will be longer lived, slower paced, and less controlled.  Some of the traditional elements, like the bombastic kick-off and the frenetic onslaught of programs, will be gone. Other elements, like the movie nights and the book discussions, will remain.

Read more: This Year's Big Read

The Two Film Versions

Warning: There are some plot spoilers in this essay.

True Grit contains two plot structures, one framing the other.  There is a plot of action, featuring pursuit and shootouts, and there is a plot of growth, narrated by an adult Mattie Ross about her quest for justice as a fourteen-year-old.

Not surprisingly, Hollywood went for the plot of action first, viewing True Grit as a Western adventure.  Both major film adaptations of the novel—in 1969 and 2010—were recognizable as genre vehicles, their differences more a matter of changed expectations of Western films than essential content.

Read more: The Two Film Versions

Big Read Book Groups and Discussions

True Grit book coverThe Big Read is upon us, and there are quite a few opportunities to get involved in various book groups and discussions about True Grit by Charles Portis, this year's Big Read book selection. Take a look at the following list of discussion events for March and April and, if you're interested at all in book discussions, pick up a copy of the book to read and choose the event that works the best for you! Hope to see you there!


Forever Young Book Club - Newcastle - March 8th at 10 am

The Forever Young Book Club will participate in the "Big Read" by discussing the book True Grit by Charles Portis. The club will have refreshments relating to the book. Join us for a lively conversation. See the Newcastle Staff for a copy of the book.

Read more: Big Read Book Groups and Discussions

Charles Portis

Born on December 28, 1933, Charles Portis was raised and educated in various towns in southern Arkansas. Following service in the Marine Corps during the Korean War, he enrolled in the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and graduated with a degree in journalism in 1958.

After his graduation, Portis worked for various newspapers as a reporter, including nearly two years at the Arkansas Gazette and four years at the New York Herald Tribune (which also employed Tom Wolfe, Lewis Lapham, and Jimmy Breslin at the time).  After serving a year as the Herald Tribune’s London bureau chief and reporter, he left journalism in 1964, returned to Arkansas, and began writing fiction full time.

Read more: Charles Portis

PLS bringing the Wild West to Norman on April 12th

The Pioneer Library System is bringing a dose of "True Grit" to Norman this spring.

And the central point will be a day of Wild West festivities on Saturday, April 12, beginning with Norman's annual '89er Day Parade and finishing with hours of family activities featuring Pawnee Bill's Original Wild West Show at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds.

The events are the culmination of the PLS Big Read, an annual celebration of literature that is centered on a single book. That book this year is Charles Portis' classic "True Grit," the 1968 Western bestseller that takes place in southeastern Oklahoma. The book is being read throughout Oklahoma in several promotions.

"There is so much about "True Grit" that makes it a good choice for Oklahoma readers," said Pioneer Library System Public Information Officer Gary Kramer. "We are delighted to coordinate our PLS Big Read with other "True Grit" promotions that include an NEA funded The Big Read with the Southeastern Public Library System of Oklahoma, and the "Let's Talk About It Oklahoma!" discussion series of the Oklahoma Humanities Council."

Read more: PLS bringing the Wild West to Norman on April 12th

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