First-Year Students

About the Common Reading

How did the Common Reading Experience begin?

During spring semester 2001, the Director of First Year Experience hosted a round table discussion with faculty members from a variety of departments and members of the professional staff of student affairs. The purpose of the discussion was to identify ways to create experiences for incoming first year students that would build community, yet have an academic tone. One of the ideas that surfaced was a common read. It was initially envisioned as a way for students to get to know each other, regardless of their course of study or background. The book would be assigned for reading over summer and once students arrived, they would at least have the book as a common discussion point.

Who selects the books and how do people get involved?

The book is selected by a committee comprised of representatives from the various first-year programs and from Academic and Student Affairs.  Student representatives also serve when possible.  Anyone is welcome to join the committee and may do so at any time by contacting Donna Nelson-Beene at 419-372-4864.  The committee typically meets every other week throughout the spring semester.

The goals of BGSU's Common Reading Experience:

  • Encourage students to read beyond textbooks
  • Raise awareness and tolerance of intergenerational and cultural likenesses and differences
  • Promote academic discourse and critical thinking
  • Provide an introduction to the expectations of higher education
  • Create a sense of community among students, faculty, and staff
  • Integrate and academic and social experience into the campus community


The criteria used to select the Common Reading at BGSU:

  • Be about the human condition or human experience (whether the work is fiction or non-fiction)
  • Relevant to issues related to first-year students
  • Rich in content and themes that challenge students to think critically
  • Readable, well-written, and engaging
  • Contemporary
  • Appeal to males and females
  • Written by or about someone who is willing to make a campus visit
  • Have potential for strong programming opportunities


Whom should you contact if you have questions about the Common Reading Experience?


Donna Nelson-Beene
Director of BGP (Gen Ed)/Provost Office Associate
304 McFall Center
419-372-4864
dnelson@bgsu.edu