NEA Big Read Events 2021 | New


NEA Big Read in the Holy Cross Valley is a month of theme-centric events found in this year’s selection of books, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Twin Cities author Kao Kalia Yang. Events produced by ArtReach St. Croix and / or our partner organizations connect the communities of the St. Croix Valley with the joy of reading a common book. Some highlights include:

From Literature to Life: The Latecomer – A One-Woman Show

As part of the NEA Big Read in the Holy Cross Valley, the Holy Cross Festival Theater and ArtReach Holy Cross present the stage presentation of Literature to Life by Kao Kalia Yang’s The Latehomecomer. The new one-woman virtual performance of traditional actress and flower singer Gaosong Heu will take place on Monday, June 14 at 7:00 p.m. and will be followed by a chat with Heu and an artist teaching LTL. Tickets are free but pre-registration is required at

The Latehomecomer was the first memoir written about the Hmong people. Kao Kalia Yang wrote it as a “love letter” to his grandmother whose spirit united her family through their oppression in Laos, their heartbreaking escape across the Mekong River and to a refugee camp in Thailand, their immigration to Minnesota and their transition to a hard life in America.

Literature to Life: The Latehomecomer is adapted by Aurea Tomeski and Elise Thoron. Directed by Elise Theron. Based on the novel The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir by Kao Kalia Yang, © 2008, published by Coffee House Press.

Discuss historical trauma

with Dre Jessica Gourneau

How do our ancestors live in us, enduring trials, generations of struggle and escape from survival? Join licensed psychologist Dr. Jessica Gourneau for an online discussion about mental illness from a historical and intergenerational perspective. The online discussion, presented by ArtReach St. Croix as part of the NEA Big Read in St. Croix Valley, will take place on Thursday June 10 at 7:00 PM. Discussion is free, but prior registration is required at

Dr. Gourneau will present the hope of trauma in a way that builds resilience and promotes healing by embracing cultural values. She encourages people, “When you think about healing, don’t underestimate your ability to be an agent of change. “

Dr Gourneau is Clinical Director at the Native American Family Center, Psychology Board Member, and Tribal Member of the Turtle Mountain Band from Chippewa.

Talks about books bring neighbors

together as part of NEA Big Read

On Wednesday, June 23, ArtReach St. Croix and the Stillwater Public Library will co-host a discussion on The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, a 1997 book by Anne Fadiman. Join the discussion about a Hmong family’s struggles in the early 1980s as they navigate their young daughter’s health care. This in-person chat will take place on the Forge & Foundry rooftop terrace, 223 Main Street N., Stillwater at 6:30 p.m. The event is free, but prior registration is required at In case of bad weather, the discussion will be postponed to June 30.

Book hikes encourage family reading

Several library branches in the St. Croix Valley will offer a book hike for emerging readers and their adults as part of NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley. This short, fun outdoor activity is a delicious way to participate in outdoor reading. The book hike features Jacqueline Woodson’s The Day You Begin and includes prompts to help adults engage with their young readers.

Participating libraries include: St. Croix Falls Public Library Square June 1-6, Friday Memorial Library along the History Trail in New Richmond June 7-13, Bayport Public Library on Village Green from June 14-20 and the Somerset Public Library at Larry Forrest Memorial Park June 21-25. Participating libraries also organize library card readers to encourage young readers.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. NEA Big Read in the St. Croix Valley is presented by ArtReach St. Croix in conjunction with key program partners including Valley Bookseller, Marine Mills Folk School, Twin Cities PBS (TPT), Stillwater Public Library and other branches of library located between St. Croix Falls, WI, and Hastings, MN.

Go On was made possible by loans and resources from the Center for Hmong Studies, the Hmong Archives and the Hmong Cultural Center, as well as models from the Minneapolis Airport Foundation and the Guthrie Theater.

ArtReach St. Croix is ​​a regional, non-profit arts organization committed to the mission of connecting arts communities throughout the St. Croix Valley. ArtReach supports the work of artists and arts organizations through events, marketing initiatives and educational opportunities that promote and celebrate the visual, literary and performing arts in the St. Croix Valley. ArtReach Sainte-Croix’s work is made possible through generous donations from individuals and grants from foundations. Visit to learn more.

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