Local Latino group holds reading program

April 4, 2014
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Sociedad Latina, a youth-oriented nonprofit located in Mission Hill, has been selected to participate in the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) “Big Read” program. Mission Hill is one of 77 communities in the country to participate in the program.

The nonprofit, which is partnering with the Parker Hill Branch of the Boston Public Library and the Mission Church Grammar School, is holding three months worth of events and discussions around the book “In the Time of the Butterflies” by Julia Alvarez, as part of the program. The kickoff was March 6.

Jennifer Reyes of Sociedad Latina said that the organization had worked with NEA before and “thought it was a great fit” to become involved with the “Big Read” program.

“We are very excited for the opportunity,” she said.

“In the Time of the Butterflies” is a historical novel that takes place in the Dominican Republic during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo and follows the Mirabel sisters, who try to overthrow his rule.

Reyes said Sociedad Latino selected the novel because as a Latino organization “it speaks to us tremendously.” She noted that the book’s themes of gender roles, oppression and the history of the Dominican Republic will be of interest to the Latino community. Reyes said that the fact the book was already available in both English and Spanish was another selling point.

Reyes said that the March 6 kickoff event was held at the Parker Hill Branch library with performances, visual art pieces including butterflies and musicians playing both traditional and original Latino music. Free copies of the book were also available. But, Reye said, if you missed an opportunity to get a book then, free copies are still available at Sociedad Latino office at 1530 Tremont St.

Reyes said seven discussions were held in March, which included one event that brought seniors and youths together for an intergenerational conversation. She said the discussions all involve the book, but take different angles, such as how an every day person can become a hero. Reyes said that that is important because a lot of the students have similar backgrounds with single, female-headed households.

“Their moms are heroes who don’t get recognized,” she said.

Reyes said there are several upcoming events, including a May 10 event where mothers and daughters will celebrate sisterhood and motherhood and a May 12 event where the author will appear via the video-phone service Skype.

Reyes said it is “amazing” being part of the “Big Read” program, as the organization is able to give “In the Time of the Butterflies” away for free and that the novel is “a piece of Latino history and literature.”

For more information about the events or the “Big Read” program, visit sociedadlatina.org.

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