2007 Common Reading Initiative

Introduction and Guide

Common Reading Initiative Guide Cover

About the Common Reading Initiative

Welcome to the JSC community! Your decision to attend the Johnson State College is the first step in exploring a world of new ideas and experiences. That exploration begins today when you open A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah.

As a first-year student, you will be participating in the College’s first Common Reading Initiative, a program of lectures, discussions, exhibits, films and concerts that complement the book. The highlight of the semester will be an on-campus visit by the book’s author, Ishmael Beah.

History of the Initiative

We’ve designed the program to introduce you to the academic and intellectual culture of the College through a common reading experience. A committee of faculty and staff met this spring to choose a book for the entire incoming class to read during the summer. This fall, you will have many opportunities to share and compare ideas about the common book.  Your Peer Orientation Leaders, as well as many faculty and staff, will also have read A Long Way Gone, providing a broad base for discussion and integration into the JSC community.

About the Book

A Long Way Gone is Beah’s first-hand account of being pressed into service as a child soldier in the war-torn country of Sierra Leone. His story of a childhood lost and an adulthood found is an inspiring journey from heartbreaking tragedy to hope and redemption.

Important Dates

We expect all students to have read the book by August 25, 2007 in preparation for the first discussion during the New Student Orientation. In addition to this inaugural discussion, we’ve scheduled:

  • August 25: Small group discussions with faculty and peers
  • August 27: Music by the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars
  • Mondays and Wednesdays throughout the semester: Film  series
  • October 22: A visit and talk with author Ishmael Beah


A Guide to Reading A Long Way Gone

About the Author

Sierra Leone: Background Information and Map

Questions to Guide and Enhance Your Reading

Download the Guide

You can also download a pdf version of this guide by clicking on the link. (You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader, version 5 or higher, to view this file. Click on the link to download Reader.)