The Big Read continues at Scotch Plains Public Library on February 28th, with the first of a series of lectures designed to provide context and richer understanding of the book the community will read and discuss, In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alvarez.

At 7:00 PM, Thursday, February 28, Jahaira Arias of Rutgers University, will focus on the period of Dominican history in which the real-life events which Alvarez fictionalized took place, including  the prelude to, and aftermath of General  Trujillo’s 30-year dicatorship, which ended in 1961.  She will also entertain questions from attendees. Her talk will lay the groundwork for reading, future book discussions, and more lectures by historians, educators and writers.  Jahaira Arias is a seventh year doctoral student in the department of History at Rutgers University.  She specializes in the history of Latin America and is interested in the politics of race, nation, region and gender in the Caribbean.

The lecture series will include the following, all beginning at 7:00 PM:

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  • Thursday, February 28. Recent History of the Dominican Republic. Jahaira Arias, Rutgers University
  • Monday, March 4. Protest Art, Andrea Karanik, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School
  • Wednesday, March 6. Beisbol—The World of Dominican Baseball. Eric Fisher, sportswriter
  • Thursday, March 21. The Latin American Novel as History. Professor  David Blackmore, New Jersey City University
  • Thursday, April 11. The Women in Julia Alvarez’s Fiction. Professor Grisel Lopez-Diaz, New Jersey City University
  • Monday, April 22. Butterflies in Art. Andrea Karanik, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School

In addition to the lectures, The Big Read includes music, art projects, book discussions, and festivities at the Scotch Plains Public Library, and interdisciplinary studies for students in grades K-12 in our district’s schools. 

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The Big Read is managed by Arts Midwest. Scotch Plains is one of 78 communities nationwide participating in the current Big Read.

 The Big Read partners welcome all participants to the many free  events planned through mid-June. More information may be found on the web site of Scotch Plains Public Library ( and on the library’s Big Read blog ( ).