MOUNT OLIVE — Conor Grennan’s Little Princes has been selected as the common reading for the incoming freshmen class at the University of Mount Olive. The book is an account of the author’s trip to an orphanage in war-torn Nepal. He soon discovers that the children were not orphans, but rather were taken from their families by child traffickers. The book shares Grennan’s efforts to reunite the children with their parents.
Jackie Hill, chair of the Common Reading Selection Committee and instruction librarian at UMO, said, “The book really resonated with the committee. It is an amazing story of strength, commitment, leadership and compassion told with humor and gravity. We believe the story transcends academic disciplines, cultures, and religious backgrounds and will challenge students and faculty to think globally and to look for ways to make a positive impact here or abroad.”
According to Hill the Common Reading Selection Committee started working in November of 2013 and read over 40 books before making their final selection.
Little Princes will be purchased by all first-year and transfer students enrolled in Advisement 100. Faculty members who teach those students will be encouraged to integrate the common reading selection into their curriculum through class discussions and projects. According to Hill, the themes that the University plans to explore with students while using the book are human trafficking, leadership, selflessness, the history of Nepal and service to others.
“We are happy about continuing a discussion of the topic of human trafficking that our Chaplain Carla Williamson began during the spring 2014 semester,” Hill said. “Many local resources are available on the subject of human trafficking that we hope to tap into.”
Vice President for Student Affairs Dan Sullivan said, “The Common Reading Selection builds a sense of community among the freshmen by giving them a shared experience, encouraging the exchange of ideas in an academic setting and stressing the importance of reading as a college student and informed adult.”
In addition to student engagement, the university is also encouraging faculty and staff to get involved in summer reading groups, many of which will begin meeting this week.
This is the second year that a title has been selected by a committee comprised of faculty, staff and students. Students who participated in last year’s common reading selection Picking Cotton had the opportunity to meet and hear from the book’s authors, participate in small group discussions, and provide thoughtful, written reflections on the book.
“Students had a meaningful engagement with last year’s selection, and we are hoping for the same with this year’s selection as well,” Sullivan said. “We are anticipating that our students will gain a great deal from the book and the corresponding programming.”
Community members, faculty, staff, and students will have a chance to meet the author of Little Princes during a lecture and book signing scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 6, at 4 p.m. in Southern Bank Auditorium in Raper Hall. Attendees can bring a copy of Little Princes or purchase one at the event for the autograph session with Grennan immediately following the lecture.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The university, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.