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‘Born a Crime’ selected as Common Reading Experience text

May 3, 2021

There are at least two things that incoming Huskies have in common: they never quit, and they will read Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Noah’s collection of personal stories has been selected for NIU’s Common Reading Experience for the 2021-23 academic years.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah has been selected at the book for the Common Reading Experience during the 2021-2023 academic years.

Originally from South Africa, Trevor Noah is the current host of the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning The Daily Show on Comedy Central. In addition, he tours the world and has performed in front of sold out crowds at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, as well as many U.S. cities, including DeKalb at the Convocation Center in 2019.

Born a Crime offers a depiction of Trevor Noah’s upbringing. The stories he shares encapsulate his experiences and offer insight into many issues facing young adults today. Born during a time of apartheid in South Africa, he shares memories that illustrate his experiences in grappling with his identity, coping with racism and reflecting on the influence that his mother, grandmother and other family had on his life. His story is highly affective, and his narration brings a lighthearted approach to meaningful topics and encourages readers to contemplate relevant and current issues.

The Common Reading Experience helps build a sense of community among many new students during their first year at NIU. The chosen book is incorporated into the curriculum of UNIV 100 and 200 courses and in classes offered through a variety of academic departments including the Department of English and the Department of Communication. Typically, the book’s themes include insights into personal identity and civic responsibility and encourage students to discover and appreciate new perspectives.

“We are really excited about using Trevor Noah’s book as our Common Reading Experience text,” said Jenna Pracht, director of the Office of Orientation and First Year Programs. “We think that the themes he addresses in the book will resonate with new Huskies and are looking forward to planning programming that will enhance students’ classroom experiences and provide them with opportunities to share their own personal experiences and perspectives.”

Choosing a book for the Common Reading Experience is no small feat. Representatives from several university departments have served on the Common Reading Experience selection committee and considered and reviewed several titles. The committee that selected the 2021-2023 included:

  • Jocelyn Santana from Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
  • Julie Ann O’Connell from the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies.
  • Lisa King from the CHANCE Program.
  • Ellen Franklin from the Department of English.
  • Michael Day from the Department of English.
  • Kelly Winters from Housing and Residential Services.
  • Jenna Pracht from the Office of Orientation and First Year Programs.
  • Melanie Griegoliet from the Office of Orientation and First Year Programs.

In addition to the work from the professional staff serving on the committee, the proposed title has been vetted by the Huskie Student Advisory Board which is made up of 10 undergraduate students.