Dear John Brown University student,


Congratulations on your decision to enroll at John Brown University!  In coming to JBU, you are joining a learning community where students learn not only from professors and books but from each other.  Moreover, professors are not simply dispensers of knowledge but fellow learners who continually explore new ideas and perspectives.


One important feature of a learning community is the discussion of good books.  Thus, your first step in joining the JBU community is the Summer Reading Program we call JBU Reads.   This year’s theme is “From Every Nation and Tribe: Unity in Diversity.”  Last fall, the JBU Reads committee asked students, faculty, and staff to recommend a book that best fits this theme.  We received many great suggestions.  Here are the final selections:  Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country; Jade Snow Wong’s Fifth Chinese Daughter; Claude M. Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi; and Beverly Daniel Tatum’s Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?


Please read one of these books before you join us for Orientation Week in August.  To help you make your selection, we have created an introductory booklet.  In it, you will find the biography of each recommender, a brief plot synopsis, and a short essay explaining why you should read that particular book.  We hope you choose the right book for you.  It is not required to purchase a book, so browse your local libraries or borrow from friends and family.  If you have access to a computer or an e-reader, you will also be able to find some of the titles available as e-books.


During Orientation Week, you and your peers will discuss these books and this year’s theme with a JBU professor and upper-level students.  At this meeting you will be expected to write a brief essay exploring how your book relates to important theological concepts such as creation, sin, and redemption.  So, it is important that you read the book carefully and critically.  This academic exercise will count as your first grade for COR 1002:  Gateway Seminar in Christian Scholarship.


We hope you enjoy the book, and we look forward to meeting you in August.




Brent Swearingen, Library Director

Mary Habermas, Reference Librarian

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