NORMAN — “Old School,” Tobias Wolff's novel set in the 1960s in an elite, private boarding school, is the Pioneer Library System's Big Read book for the coming year.
Big Read is a community reading program that focuses each year on a specific book.
“Old School” was chosen to appeal to high school students in particular, and high school teachers are encouraged to teach the novel in conjunction with the campaign, which will culminate in April with a visit by the author to Norman, Moore and Shawnee.
Teachers will receive copies of the novel to check out to their students, a two-week lesson plan prepared by the National Endowment for the Arts, support materials and access to online resources, as well as advice and mentoring from a respected educator, said Gary Kramer, the Pioneer Library System's public information officer.
“‘Old School' has teen characters, is set in a private boys' school in the early 1960s and is full of references to authors of the day such as Robert Frost, Ayn Rand and Ernest Hemingway,” Kramer said.
The conflicts in the novel deal with issues of honesty, self-identity, competition, peer pressure and responsibility, he said.
Betsy Ballard will serve as a resource and mentor for educators who teach the novel. Ballard taught English, debate and competitive acting, retiring in May after 36 years at Norman High School.
During her tenure, Ballard was named the Norman Public Schools Teacher of the Year, was recognized as a distinguished teacher by the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars and received numerous state, regional and national teaching awards.
Ballard will conduct a workshop for participating teachers to introduce the lessons from the National Endowment for the Arts.
All public, private and homeschool educators working in Cleveland, McClain and Pottawatomie counties are eligible to participate. Applications are available at public libraries in Blanchard, McLoud, Moore, Newcastle, Noble, Norman, Purcell, Shawnee, southwest Oklahoma City and Tecumseh. Completed applications are due Oct. 19.
For more information, call Kramer at 701-2646 or go to www.bigreadok.com.