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August, 2003

The time leading up to Oklahoma's Centennial celebration offers our state's citizens an unprecedented opportunity to study their heritage and explore what it means to be an Oklahoman.

A goal of Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma is to make literature and history part of this statewide examination.

The mission of this project is to celebrate our diversity and heritage by encouraging the reading, discussion, and enjoyment of Oklahoma-themed literature.

It's a chance to create a community of readers, to involve different age groups, and to join together towns large and small as we read and talk about our special Oklahoma identity.

As we draw closer to the 100th anniversary of Oklahoma’s statehood, it is fitting that we examine what Oklahoma has been and what it is becoming. Oklahoma’s rich history and literature explores themes related to the settlement of Oklahoma: the removal of Indian tribes, the slow migration of other tribes, lotteries and land runs of people from many regions of the country, and immigrants of various ethnic and racial heritage. The state’s early history is replete with dramatic stories from the land runs, frontier settlement, the oil boom, and the depression. In more recent history, Oklahomans have made an impact on the national scene through political, scientific, military, and educational leadership.

As novelist Edna Ferber once said, “almost anything can happen in Oklahoma. Almost everything has.” Authors inside and outside of our state have been inspired by the Oklahoma experience. They have put pen to paper to tell both real and imagined human dramas and comedies, of pioneers and lawmen, of frontier bravery and chicanery, of searing poverty and depression conquered by courage and persistence. As books about Oklahoma appear with increasing regularity, they are helping us to understand Oklahoma’s history, its icons, its culture, and its future promise.

Over these next few years, we invite you and Oklahomans across our grand land to join this statewide reading and discussion program. In the process of exploring these literary works and talking about them with your fellow citizens, we hope you discover something special about yourself and your neighbors, and about this great state we call home.

Anita R. May, Ph.D.*
Executive Director and President
Oklahoma Humanities Council

Susan C. McVey
Director
Oklahoma Department of Libraries

*Anita May has retired. Ann Thompson became the new OHC Executive Director in January, 2006