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MKE Big Read 2017

Big Read Milwaukee

April 1 - May 13, 2017
Milwaukee Public Library

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

NEA Big Read Logo

Read along with all of Milwaukee during the MKE Big Read! As part of the NEA Big Read 2017, Milwaukee Public Library will offer exciting events, programs, and discussions related to Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies. MKE Big Read seeks to inspire conversations about our communities and ourselves.

In the Time of the Butterflies, by acclaimed author Julia Alvarez, transports readers to the Dominican Republic in the mid-20th century when the country struggled under the brutal dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Alvarez honors the lives of Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa Mirabal, who became icons of freedom and women’s rights when they were assassinated in the autumn of 1960 for their role in the under- ground movement against Trujillo’s regime. The novel explores themes of courage, freedom, rebellion against tyranny, family and women’s rights.

Click here to get all the details

MKE Big Read Kickoff 

Saturday, April 8, 11 am-1 pm
at Central Library, Schoenleber Reading Room

Ready, Set, Read! Help us kick off the MKE Big Read and celebrate In the Time of the Butterflies. The kickoff will include readings from the book, Caribbean dances by Panadanza Dance Company, and craft activities. Community partners Milwaukee Public Museum and Walker’s Point Center for the Arts will help you explore butterflies by getting up close and personal with MPM’s mounted specimens and crafting your own butterfly to take home. Join us and receive free admission tickets (while supplies last) to MPM’s newest special exhibit Global Kitchen!

Special Exhibit and Demonstration: Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture at Milwaukee Public Museum 

Thursday, April 6, 3-5 pm
at Milwaukee Public Museum

Use your senses to learn about staples of Caribbean cuisine and the rich culinary history of the Caribbean. Explore how food is grown, how it reaches our markets and kitchens, how cooks and cultures create cuisines, and the role of food in ceremony and celebration. Free museum admission but special exhibition fees apply.

“Milwaukee is a Butterfly” Teen Poetry Contest

April 1-30, for youth ages 10-18

Do you have a way with words? Don’t be shy! All Milwaukee youth ages 10-18 are encouraged to submit a poem with an entry form to compete in this year’s Poetry Contest featuring the anti-violence theme “Milwaukee is a Butterfly”. Learn more!

Teen Poetry and Spoken Word Open Mic Night

Saturday, May 13, 6-8 pm
Centennial Hall Loos Room, 733 N. Eighth St.

Calling all teen poets and spoken word artists! We want you and your words to be heard! Join us for a writing workshop and perform at our Open Mic red carpet event. Our anti-violence theme is “Milwaukee is a Butterfly.” Sponsored by the Teen Advisory Board.

A Visit From Author Julia Alvarez

Wednesday, May 3, 6-7 pm
at Central Library, Centennial Hall Loos Room

Acclaimed author and poet Julia Alvarez joins Milwaukee in a discussion of her MKE Big Read title In the Time of the Butterflies. Broadcast via Skype.

Julia Alverez

Julia Alvarez, 2000 (Courtesy of Caleb Kenna)

Check out the book at your Milwaukee Public Library!


Woodland Pattern and Boswell Book Company will both offer a 10% discount on the purchase of “In the Time of the Butterflies.” Mention MKE Big Read at time of purchase.


Discovery Lunch: Memoir Writing

Tuesday, April 4, 12:30-1:30 pm at Mill Road Branch

Tuesday, May 9, 12:30-1:30 pm at Central Library, Community Room

Memory and family are central themes in the MKE Big Read book, In the Time of the Butterflies. Learn how to write the key stories of your life to share with your family and friends. Presented by author and writing coach Rochelle Melander.

Registration required; please call 414.286.3011 or register online: Mill Road | Central

Discovery Lunch: Researching Your Family Tree

Tuesday, April 18, 12:30-1:30 pm at Zablocki Branch
Tuesday, May 2, 12:30-1:30 p.m. at Mill Road Branch

Family history plays an important role in In the Time of the Butterflies. Start investigating your family history with the resources available at the Milwaukee Public Library.

Registration required; please call 414.286.3011 or register online: Zablocki | Mill Road

Learn Merengue and Bachata

Saturdays, April 15, 22, 29, 3-4 pm at Bay View Branch

Panadanza Dance Company brings the dances of the Dominican Republic to Milwaukee in these dance classes for everyone! Please wear comfortable clothing.

The Thing About Flowers

Monday, April 24, 6-7:30 pm at Tippecanoe Branch
Tuesday, May 2, 6-7:30 pm at East Branch

Flowers in Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies are sustaining, symbolic and ritualistic. Touch on the significance of flowers in the book and join Michael Alt, local florist and Alt’s antique shop owner, as he shares his love of sustainable flowers and expertise in flower arranging. Make your own floral arrangement in a small vessel to take home.

Registration required; please call 414.286.3011 or register online: Tippecanoe | East 

Film Screening “In the Time of the Butterflies” 

Saturday, April 15, 1 pm at Martin Luther King Branch

Tuesday, April 25, 5:30 pm at Center Street Branch

Grab some popcorn and watch the feature film In the Time of the Butterflies featuring Selma Hayek and Marc Anthony. 

Film Screening Documentary “Code Name: Butterflies”

Tuesday, April 11, 12:30-1:30 pm
at Central Library, Community Room 1

Part of Discovery Lunches series.
Registration required; please call 414.286.3011 or register online.

Monday, May 1, 6-7 pm at Capitol Branch

“Code Name: Butterflies” is the first documentary to tell the powerful story of the Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic. 

Afternoons with Art (AwA)

Friday, April 7, 3-5:30 pm (Family Art Day)
Thursday, April 13, 1-5 pm
Walker’s Point Center for the Arts, 839 S. 5th Street

Afternoons with Art classes give students an extensive session on art and expression, guided by a structured curriculum and experienced arts educators. Explore the themes of MKE Big Read’s In the Time of the Butterflies. Call 414.509.6187 to
register or visit WPCA’s website at

For Teachers! “In the Time of the Butterflies”
Teacher Roundtable

Presented by the Center for Latin American and Carribbean Studies (CLAS) at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Saturday, April 22, 9-11:30 am

UWM Northwest Quadrant D1961, 2025 E. Newport Ave.

A teacher roundtable discussion on In the Time of the Butterflies with Professor Emerita Valentina Peguero (History, UW-Stevens Point). Free event. Register by email to

Dominican Political Environment during “In the Time of the Butterflies”

Saturday, April 22, 3-4 pm
at Central Library, Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room

Dr. Valentina Peguero, Professor Emerita (History, UW-Stevens Point), gives insight into the Dominican political environment and Dictator Trujillo’s reign during In the Time of the Butterflies.

Ex Fabula Events

Ex Fabula Storytelling Workshops in English & Spanish

Thursday, April 13, 7-9 pm
at UWM Union 280, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.

Monday, April 24, 6-8 pm
Artists Working in Education, 4315 W Vliet St.


Saturday, April 29, 2:30-4:30 pm
at Villard Square Branch

Everyone has a story to tell, and we want to help you share yours! At Ex Fabula Storytelling Workshops, experienced storytelling coaches guide you through hands-on, small group exercises on the following topics:

  • Finding your story: Why storytelling is important and powerful and how to select a great story to tell

  • Crafting your story: How to structure your story for maximum impact

  • Telling your story: Tips to practice before you take the stage

Our theme, in keeping with In the Time of the Butterflies, is “courage.” Ages 13 and up. After the workshop, plan on attending a free StorySlam on Thursday May 4 at Centennial Hall (733 N. Eighth St.) and if you feel like sharing your story onstage, you can put your name in the hat.

Registration required:

Ex Fabula Storytelling Workshops - En Español

Miércoles, 19 de Abril, 5:30-7:45 pm
Forest Home Branch

Todo el mundo tiene una historia personal que compartir, y queremos ayudarte a compartir la tuya! En los talleres de historias personales de Ex Fabula, entrenadores con experiencia te guiarán a través de prácticos ejercicios en grupo que abarcan los siguientes temas:
• Cómo encontrar tu historia: Por qué la narración de historias personales es importante y poderosa y cómo seleccionar una gran historia que contar.
• Cómo construir tu historia: Cómo estructurar tu historia para que tenga un mayor impacto.
• Cómo contar tu historia: Consejos para practicar antes de salir al escenario.

Nuestro tema es “el valor”, de acuerdo con En el tiempo de las mariposas. Para los de 13 años y mayores. Después del taller, quédate para el concurso de cuentos gratis, el jueves 4 de mayo en Centennial Hall, y si te gustaría compartir tu cuento en el escenario, puedes colocar tu nombre en el

Se requiere inscripción:

MKE Big Read Bilingual Story Slam with Ex Fabula

Thursday, May 4, 6:30-8:30 pm
Centennial Hall, Milwaukee Public Library 

Ex Fabula StorySlams strengthen community bonds by creating spaces where people can connect over true, personal stories. No props, no notes – just the elements of “Story. Stage. You”. This StorySlam will feature stories related to the theme of “Courage”.

Doors open at 6:30 pm, stories start at 7 pm. Come just to listen – or, if you have a story related to the night’s theme and can share it in 5 minutes or less, throw your name in the hat for a chance to take the stage. Another way to share stories is via UltraShorts, which are brief, true personal stories written on slips of paper and then read onstage by the emcee.

Children's Programs


Wednesday, April 5, 4-5 pm at Capitol Branch

Monday, April 10, 4:30-5:30 pm at Atkinson Branch

Monday, April 10, 5:30-6:15 pm at Villard Square Branch

Thursday, April 13, 10:30-11 am at Bay View Branch
Thursday, April 13, 10:30-11 a.m. at Center Street Branch

Thursday, April 13, 10:30-11:15 am at Mill Road Branch

Monday, April 17, 6-7 pm at East Branch

Thursday, April 20, 10:30-11:15 am at Forest Home Branch

Saturday, April 22, 10:30-11:15 am at Central Library

Wednesday, April 26, 6:15-7 pm at Zablocki Branch

Friday, April 28, 10:30-11:30 am at Tippecanoe Branch

Saturday, April 29, 2-2:45 pm at Martin Luther King Branch

Spring has sprung! Celebrate the season and MPL’s Big Read selection In the Time of the Butterflies with a butterfly-themed story time and craft.

Code Breakers

Tuesday, April 4, 4-5 pm at Washington Park Branch

Saturday, April 15, 2-3 pm at Central Library

Can you follow the clues and crack the code? Come be a Code Breaker at the library!

Create Your Own World

Saturday, April 8, 2-3 pm at Central Library

If you were in charge of creating your nation, what would it look like? Would you be able to keep the peace and create a prosperous society? Discover the power you have to influence your world. 

Boswell Logo Woodland Pattern Logo MPM Logo Exfabula Logo Clacs Logo WPCA Logo MPL Logo

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Book Discussions

In the Time of the Butterflies explores themes of courage, freedom, rebellion against tyranny, family and memory. Discuss the book, its themes, and its relevance to our community with fellow Milwaukeeans at one of our many MKE Big Read book discussions.

Monday, April 3, 6 pm
Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave.
Event Information

Wednesday, April 5, 3 pm
Woodland Pattern,
720 E. Locust St.
Event Information

Wednesday, April 12, 6 pm
Zablocki Branch
Event Information

Tuesday, April 18, 6 pm
Central Library
Event Information

Tuesday, April 25, 6 pm (Book to Art)
East Branch
Event Information

Wednesday, April 26, 1 pm (Brown Bag)
Villard Branch
Event Information

Tuesday, May 2, 6 pm
Washington Park Branch
Event Information

Tuesday, May 4,
3:30-5:30 pm
[Presented in Spanish]

UWM Curtin Hall 733
3243 N. Downer Ave.
( for info)

Thursday, May 11, 5 pm
Tippacanoe Branch
Event Information

Saturday, May 13, 1:30-3 pm
MPL Facebook page
Event Information

MKE Big Read Booklist

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