Common Reading Program selection included in upcoming activities

August 12, 2010

First-year students Cody Wilson and Bhavika Thakkar look through "Kite Runner," this year's Common Reading Program selection. Copies of Khaled Hosseini's book were distributed to first-year and transfer students during the Summer Transition, Advising and Registration program.

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Purdue faculty, staff and student leaders are making plans to incorporate this year's Common Reading Program selection, "The Kite Runner," into courses, activities and events for the 2010-11 school year.
Copies of Khaled Hosseini's book were distributed to first-year and transfer students during the Summer Transition, Advising and Registration program. All international students and students with a STAR exception will receive the book electronically.

Nearly 85 percent of students reported reading last year's Common Reading selection, "Stealing Buddha's Dinner," and nearly a quarter of all first-year students reported using the text in one or more of their courses. Efforts are underway to increase these inaugural outcomes.

Before classes begin, incoming students attending Boiler Gold Rush will engage in book discussions with their BGR leaders and University Residences advisors.

Kasi Jones, senior assistant director of Student Access, Transitions and Success programs and coordinator of orientation, says the first step to educating incoming students about "The Kite Runner" is educating BGR team leaders and staff members about the book.
"There are certain themes we want every leader to cover like friendship and diversity, but we will ask them to develop ideas for their own team activities and discussion topics," she says.
BGR leaders and University Residences student staff will also hear from agricultural economics professor Kevin McNamara on how to facilitate discussion of the book with new students. McNamara and agronomy professor George Van Scoyoc will use "The Kite Runner" as one of several resources to help students in an honors course understand the current social, economic and political situation in Afghanistan.

Last year, more than 5,000 students participated in Common Reading book discussions led by student leaders during BGR.

Learning communities will help fulfill the program's goal of a shared academic first-year experience. Jenna Laub Seabold, senior assistant director of SATS and coordinator of Purdue Promise, says that she and her colleagues will use the book as required reading in the Purdue Promise first-year experience course.
"We're going to educate students about Afghanistan and its culture, history, food and language," Laub Seabold says. "We'll talk about the different themes from the book like friendship, immigration, identity, diversity and self-determination -- things the students can relate to right now." 
Laub Seabold plans to collaborate with the other Purdue Promise learning community instructors to set up book-related events outside the classroom. "We've talked about going to the Olive House or Blue Nile restaurants and watching the movie 'Osama' as supplements to our discussions," she says.
Rosie Clawson, professor of political science and faculty advisor for Pi Sigma Alpha, a political science honor society, says "The Kite Runner" provides the perfect opportunity for undergraduates, graduate students and faculty to address important political issues together.
"The book brings up many concepts that are of concern to political scientists," says Clawson. "Ethnic identity, social class, power and culture are a few of the topics I know we will talk about."

Pi Sigma Alpha hopes to incorporate the book in two events during the school year -- a professor-driven panel session and a student-driven discussion of the book.
"I want to help raise important conversations and bring in expertise for students," says Clawson. "So many of our faculty are interested in topics found in the book that I think these will be great events.
"A lot of people are already interested in participating. Many that I’ve talked to have read the book and are excited to read it again to prepare for our discussions."
The Common Reading Program began in 2009 and is funded by the Office of the Provost. The program is coordinated by Purdue Libraries and the Student Access, Transition and Success Programs and is guided by the University’s Common Reading Committee, which is comprised of faculty, staff and students. 

For more on the Common Reading Program and information and resources about "The Kite Runner," visit