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The Big Read Begins

Community-Wide Reading Project:

The Underdogs by Melissa Fay Greene

 Events at the Dayton Metro Library

Friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers across the Miami Valley are all reading the same book: The Underdogs: Children, Dogs, and the Power of Unconditional Love by Melissa Fay Greene. This book was chosen by popular vote last fall to be the Big Read, the annual community-wide reading project. The Big Read, which runs March 5 - April 16, encourages reading, conversation, and connection through book discussions and other events at area libraries, colleges, and bookstores.


The Underdogs tells the true story of Xenia, Ohio-based service dog organization, 4 Paws for Ability and its founder, Karen Shirk. The author, Melissa Fay Greene, weaves the latest scientific discoveries with Karen’s story and the stories of children with disabilities and their families.

“Melissa Fay Greene lends her trademark empathetic voice to this engrossing inside look at the work of 4 Paws for Ability, a service-dog academy...Greene, a master at telling the most human of stories, will still leave readers smiling. And dog lovers will adore this book.” — Booklist review

The Dayton Metro Library is offering free, unlimited use of eBook and audiobook versions of The Underdogs for the six-week duration of the Big Read.

“This means that if every Dayton Metro Library cardholder wants to read or listen to The Underdogs in Overdrive at the same time – they can do it! No holds, no waiting,” said Holly Varley, Dayton Metro Library Collection Development Director. Multiple copies of the physical book, both regular and large-print, are available for checkout as well.  

Librarian-led BOOK DISCUSSIONS are scheduled at many Dayton Metro Library Branches:

*Dayton Metro Library off-site book discussions


The subject of the Big Read book, 4 Paws for Ability, introduces audiences to the nationally-recognized nonprofit. Find out what goes into training a service dog, how they are matched with people in need, and meet a dog in training.

Thursday, April 12 | 6 PM | Main Library Eichelberger Forum

Melissa Fay Greene comes to Dayton! Joined by 4 Paws for Ability Founder Karen Shirk, they’ll talk about the book we’ve all been reading, the dogs that are trained at 4 Paws, and the wonderful families they serve. Bring your questions!

Ms. Greene is the author of six nonfiction books: Praying for Sheetrock, The Temple Bombing, Last Man Out, There Is No Me Without You, No Biking in the House Without a Helmet, and The Underdogs. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Book Award nominations, and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. Praying for Sheetrock was named one of the Top 100 Works of American Journalism of the 20th Century. Ms. Greene was a childhood resident of Dayton, Ohio, and a graduate of Oberlin College. She now lives in Atlanta with her husband and children.

A complete schedule of all the Big Read events across the Miami Valley, as well as more information on the book and the author, is available at

Big Read Sponsors are:

Books and Co

Bradford Public Library

Dayton Metro Library

Franklin-Springboro Public Library

Germantown Public Library

Greene County Public Library

Kettering College

New Carlisle Public Library

Project READ

Sinclair Community College

Tipp City Public Library

Troy-Miami County Public Library

University of Dayton

Washington-Centerville Public Library

Wright Memorial Public Library

Wright State University Libraries

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