Hoosiers are invited to join in the statewide read of Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments as part of Indiana Humanities’ Unearthed initiative, which explores Hoosiers’ relationships with the natural world. The heart of One State / One Story: World of Wonders is communities coming together to talk about Nezhukumatathil’s remarkable collection of essays. Indiana Humanities is providing $750 grants, books and promotional materials for host organizations to design and implement programs in 2022.
What is a Community Read?
About Community Reads
A Community Read is a series of three or more programs that explore the themes and ideas of Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments. Taking place at up to 30 locations throughout Indiana in 2022, at least one of the programs offered is a book discussion, because there’s nothing better than talking about great books with curious people. Other events might be speaker programs, community conversations, exhibits, hands-on activities and more.
Indiana Humanities provides the following resources to Community Read Hosts:
- $750 grant
- Up to 30 copies of the book
- Fun swag to build excitement about your Community Read
- Program guide with discussion questions, short essays and more
- A recorded facilitation training that can help you or whoever is leading your book discussion create a meaningful conversation
- A speakers bureau with talks about environmental issues and ideas relevant to Indiana
- Program logos and other downloadable promotional collateral
Community Read hosts are Indiana not-for-profits and are required to host at least three programs, one of which must be a book discussion. Hosts must also attend an online training webinar and submit all required reporting information to Indiana Humanities. Read the program guide to learn more about the requirements for host organizations.
About the Book
From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction—a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.
As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted—no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape—she was able to turn to our world’s fierce and funny creatures for guidance.
“What the peacock can do,” she tells us, “is remind you of a home you will run away from and run back to all your life.” The axolotl teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world’s gifts.
Warm, lyrical, and gorgeously illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, World of Wonders is a book of sustenance and joy.
About the Author
Aimee Nezhukumatathil (neh-ZOO / KOO-mah / tah-TILL) is the author of the New York Times best-selling illustrated collection of nature essays and Kirkus Prize finalist, WORLD OF WONDERS: IN PRAISE OF FIREFLIES, WHALE SHARKS, & OTHER ASTONISHMENTS (2020, Milkweed Editions), which was chosen as Barnes and Noble’s Book of the Year. She has four previous poetry collections: OCEANIC (Copper Canyon Press, 2018), LUCKY FISH (2011), AT THE DRIVE-IN VOLCANO (2007), and MIRACLE FRUIT (2003), the last three from Tupelo Press. Her most recent chapbook is LACE & PYRITE, a collaboration of epistolary garden poems with the poet Ross Gay. Her writing appears twice in the Best American Poetry Series, The New York Times Magazine, ESPN, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, and Tin House.
Honors include a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pushcart Prize, a Mississippi Arts Council grant, and being named a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry. In 2021, she became the first-ever poetry editor for SIERRA magazine, the story-telling arm of The Sierra Club. She is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.
Ready to apply?
When you’re ready to apply, fill out the online application form. We recommend that you read the program guide and have fully developed program ideas and partnership ideas before filling out the form. Applications are now open to host a Community Read, and are due by Oct. 1, 2021. Applicants will be notified of their approval by Oct. 22, 2021.
Resources for Hosting a Community Read
Curious about what goes into a Community Read? Check out these resources as you apply to host a Community Read.