Big Read 2013: True Grit

dark orange background with cowboy wearing eyepatch on horse

The Kansas City Public Library will lead a community-wide celebration of Charles Portis’ iconic western novel True Grit.

Readers will be able to connect with True Grit through a wide range of free public events, programs, book discussions, and a special exhibit at the Central Library. Additionally, several hundred copies of True Grit will be available for check-out from all ten Kansas City Public Library locations.

Signature Events

Speakers, author events, discussions and more

  • The American Royal Parade: A Star Spangled Salute | Sat. September 28, 2013 at 9:45 a.m. | Grand Blvd. from Pershing Rd. to Truman Rd. | Joining forces for the first time in Kansas City Big Read history, the Kansas City Public Library and the American Royal will mark the public kick-off of this year’s celebration of Charles Portis’ True Grit at the American Royal’s 88th Annual Parade.
  • Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Josephine Marcus Earp – Ann Kirschner | Tues. September 24, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. | Plaza Branch
  • True Grit as True Grist for Exploration of the Western Novel – Tom Averill | Wed. September 25, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. | Central Library
  • True Life, True Grit: The Uncrushable Rose – Bambi Nancy Shen | Sun. September 29, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. | Central Library
  • The Sound of True Grit: Music Inspired by the Novel – Jeff Harshbarger and The Revisionists | Wed. October 2, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. | Plaza Branch
  • True Grit and Black Women of the West: The Story of “Stagecoach” Mary Fields – Michael Searles | Fri. October 4, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. | Central Library
  • Saddle Up with Bluford: Tales from the Trail – A Little Big Read Family Event | Sat. October 5, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. | Bluford Branch
  • Rooster: The Life and Times of the Real Rooster Cogburn, the Man Who Inspired True Grit – Brett Cogburn | Sun. October 6, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. | Central Library
  • True Life, True Grit: Achieve the Honorable – Ike Skelton | Tues. October 8, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. | Central Library
  • Meet the Past with Crosby Kemper III: A Conversation with Tom Bass | Thurs. October 10, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. | Central Library
  • What True Grit (Might Have) Looked Like: The Photographs of F.M. Steele – Jim Hoy | Sun. October 20, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. | Central Library
  • Mattie Ross: A Portrait of Feminist Heroism or Traditional Masculinity? – Jane Wood, Brenda Bethman, Crystal Gorham Doss & Adrianne Russell | Thurs. October 24, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. | Plaza Branch
  • The U.S. Marshals: A Popular History of the Nation’s Oldest Law Enforcement Agency – Anthony Gasaway | Wed. October 30, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. | Central Library


A photo exhibit celebrating the mythology of the West


The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with The Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read has been provided by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation; The Ruffin A. Cooper, Jr., Endowment; the Poetry Foundation; and Ford Motor Company.

Local partners in this year’s Big Read include the American Royal, Emporia State University, the US Marshals Service-Western Missouri Region, and Women Writing the West.