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Common Reading Experience

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers has been selected as UNC Charlotte’s Common Reading text for Fall 2014.  The Common Reading Experience selection committee, chaired by Dr. Gregory Weeks, is excited to engage our campus in discussing the impact of the Iraq war, and increasing awareness of the issues veterans face that often remain hidden from view. According to the National Book Foundation, “Poetic, precise, and moving, The Yellow Birds is a work of fiercest principle, honoring loss while at the same time indicting the pieties of war.” Author Kevin Powers is himself a veteran, having served in Iraq in 2004 and again in 2005. A poet as well as a novelist, Powers earned an MFA from University of Texas at Austin after an honorable discharge from the army. 

The Common Reading Experience at UNC Charlotte is designed to provide a shared academic experience which serves to assist all First-Year students in their transition to UNC Charlotte. This program offers unique opportunities for self-reflection, critical thinking, student interaction, and understanding of diverse perspectives. Adoption of the common reading is especially encouraged in first year seminars, first year writing, and general education courses, though any faculty interested in using the text in their teaching is welcome.                               

Note to Faculty:  If you are interested in considering this text for adoption in your Fall 2014 courses, please contact Liz Fitzgerald, Director of First Year Programs, University College, so that we can send you a review copy of the book when they become available and include you on announcements related to our instructors workshop, the author visit, and other campus events of the Common Reading Experience.  Email your name, department, the course(s) you are considering using the book in, and anticipated enrollment numbers. You should also submit the book to the campus bookstore as a required text for any course in which you will be using the selection.  


2014 Common Reading Instructors Workshop

Friday, July 11th
CHHS 295
9:00-11:00 a.m.

This workshop is offered to:

  • introduce faculty to majors themes in The Yellow Birds
  • provide an opportunity for instructors to share ideas for course assignments and activities related to the text – and ways we might use the text to build community among our students
  • explore campus resources and events that can enhance student engagement with the text

We are very pleased that Dr. Diana Rowan, Department of Social Work, will provide some context for instructors to better understand the lived experiences of our veterans. Come prepared to discuss your ideas and questions about using The Yellow Birds in your classroom.

Please RSVP to firstyear@uncc.edu if you plan to attend so we can be certain to have enough materials available for all participants. If you are considering adopting this text for your course but have not yet received a copy of the book, please indicate that in your RSVP.  We will be glad to send you a review copy.


Author Visit

Thursday, October 16
Student Union, 3rd Floor
7:00 p.m.

Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds author, will visit UNC Charlotte and give a keynote address.  All are welcome to attend this free presentation.


Former Common Reading Experience Selections

2013 - Wine to Water: A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World, by Doc Hendley
2012 - Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference, by Warren St. John
2011 - How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America, by Moustafa Bayoumi
2010 - The Blue Sweater, by Jacqueline Novogratz
2009 - Listening is an Act of Love, by Dave Isay
2008 - Enrique's Journey, by Sonia Nazario
2007 - The Color of Water, by James McBride