Did you know Clinton County Reads began back in 2007 with Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya? Clinton County’s annual reading program, which is going on this month at the Frankfort Community Public Library and around the county, initially was funded with a Big Reads Grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. While NEA grant money has been used in subsequent years as well, the friends of the library and several local businesses and organization have funded the program for 2016, which celebrates three Indiana authors as part of Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration.

The books chosen for 2016 include the memoir Shakespeare Saved My Life by Dr. Laura Bates, along with a young adult novel, Caminar by Skila Brown, and a children’s picture book, H is for Hoosier by Bruce Langton. All three authors have participated in Clinton County Reads programs throughout the month of October, including writing workshops, author fairs, and even a school visit.

Books and authors chosen in previous years for the Clinton County Reads program include Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde; Marley and Me by John Grogan; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows; Follow the River by James Alexander Thom; Paper Towns by John Green; Keiko Kasza children’s picture books; Emily Dickinson’s Poetry; Sherlock Holmes Mysteries; and most recently in 2015, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.

The NEA Big Read funds approximately 75 community reading programs across the country each year, and many other programs, like Clinton County Reads, are privately funded or supported by other organizations. The NEA Big Read program was launched a decade ago to encourage reading and its many benefits, which according to the NEA include “reduced stress, heightened empathy, improved students’ test scores, slowing of the onset of dementia, and making us more active and aware citizens.”

Honor copies of the 2016 Clinton County Reads books are still available to borrow at the library, and a final event is scheduled October 29 at 9:30 a.m. in Harry’s Coffee Bar to discuss Shakespeare Saved My Life.

It’s also not too late to start a book club of your own or invite friends and family members to read along with you. After all, who couldn’t use a little reduced stress these days?

Originally published at Clinton County Daily News on October 15, 2016.