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Welcome to Eastern Reads!

Eastern Reads will provide undergraduate students with one of  their first opportunities for collegiate academic engagement.

The program provides incoming freshmen with a common intellectual experience as they begin their educational journey. All first-year students will be asked to read the same book before their arrival on campus for the fall semester. Faculty, staff, and administrators will lead book discussions during EIU Prowl, engaging students in an exploration of the book's themes, concerns, implications, and expression. These discussions will introduce first-year students to the rewards and rigors of academic dialogue in a non-threatening atmosphere, foster a common academic community and give students an important opportunity to form connections with faculty, staff and peers.

The book and its issues will also be explored through various courses, a mini-film series, an essay and creative activity contest, and an on-campus lecture series. Ideally, the author or subject of the book will be invited to campus for one of these lectures.

The summer reading program is integral to the first-year student's transition to the college experience and will reinforce communication skills, send the message that reading and reflection are an integral part of the college experience, and serve to remind students of how strongly Eastern Illinois University values the intellectual and academic development of its students. 

The goals of the Freshman Reading Initiative are to

  • Emphasize reading as a significant component of the college experience;
  • Create a foundation for students to explore values and ethics;
  • Enhance student participation in the intellectual life of the campus by encouraging open discussion, civil discourse, and critical thinking about a common theme;
  • Provide an introduction to the expectations of higher education;
  • Create a sense of community by increasing student-to-student interaction and student-to-faculty interaction;
  • Integrate an academic and social experience into the campus community;
  • Help students make connections between classroom and out-of-classroom experiences.  

We welcome the Eastern community to join us in this important initiative.


2016 Eastern Reads Selection - When the Emperor Was Divine - Julie Otsuka

Other books read for the Eastern Reads summer reading program include:

  • 2015 - Ties That Bind: Stories of Love & Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps - Dave Isay
  • 2014 - My Beloved World - Sonia Sotomayor
  • 2013 - The Submission - Amy Waldman
  • 2012 - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot
  • 2011 - Half the Sky - Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
  • 2010 - This I Believe II - Jay Allison (editor)
  • 2009 - This I Beilieve - Jay Allison (editor)
  • 2008 - Mountains Beyond Mountains - Tracy Kidder
  • 2007 - A Hope in the Unseen - Ron Suskind