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The Kingston University Big Read is our award-winning shared-reading scheme. If you are a new student starting Kingston University in September 2024, you will receive a free copy of this year's Big Read title.
To take part in the Big Read, just read the book over the summer and join in the discussions and events that take place online over the summer. Arrive ready to talk about your experiences when you reach University in September. Current students and staff will read the same book so you will have plenty to talk about when you meet. You might also like to share the book with your family and friends – finding out how different people read the same book can be fun and interesting.
When you get to Kingston University there will be lots of opportunities to share your thoughts – as well as the chance to meet the author and have your book signed. For now, bear in mind that all the students coming to Kingston, as well as the staff and students already here, are having the same experience.
If you are a new student starting Kingston University in September 2024, you will receive a free copy of this year's chosen Big Read title, which we are in the process of choosing. Last year it was Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine, by Hannah Fry.
We are proud to announce the Big Read 2024 shortlist:
Hello World is a collection of real-life short stories about how we've slowly handed over control to computers. It shows how there are algorithms and artificial intelligence hiding behind almost every aspect of our modern lives – and what that means for our society. Dr Hannah Fry takes us on a tour of the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the many algorithms that surround us – and of which most of us are unaware.
Dr Hannah Fry is a British mathematician, author, radio, and television presenter. She is currently Professor in the Mathematics of Cities in the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) in the Faculty of the Built Environment at University College London (UCL). Her studies include complex social and economic systems at various cases, from the individual to the urban, regional, and global, and particularly those with a spatial element.
Check out this special message from the author, Dr Hannah Fry.
Kingston University has a really strong sense of community. Since 2015/16 we have been building this through the development of our award-winning Kingston University Big Read.
First offered in 2015, the Kingston University Big Read aims to make those coming to the University feel welcome before they arrive, and to create links between them and the staff and students already here.
On meeting their offer, each new student (undergraduate and postgraduate) will receive a free copy of that year's special edition Kingston University Big Read title. Current students and staff will be invited to help themselves to a free copy from one of the many locations across the University's campuses. Available early in July, copies can be taken away on holiday and discussed with wider family and friends.
The scheme is based on similar projects in the USA, which have shown that creating a community through shared reading before students arrive helps them feel welcome, settle in quickly and adjust to their new life as a student. Whereas a few universities in the UK have experimented with reading schemes linked to specific types of books (e.g. prize winners) within particular faculties, Kingston University is the first UK university to establish a scheme on such a wide scale, and to involve both the full University and the local community.
The potential relevance of the project was explored through questionnaires given to first year students in 2015. After a very positive response, we trialled the scheme for those joining the University in autumn 2015. Students loved it, and talked of their excitement at receiving a 'gift' from their University – as well as feeling 'expected' and 'welcomed'. One of the most interesting findings, however, was the impact the project had within Kingston University staff. Many were more eager to participate than had been anticipated. The title chosen for the first Kingston University Big Read was Nick Hornby's About a Boy.
Since 2016, the process for choosing the book has been much more complex. The starting point is suggestions made by staff and students. All suggestions are carefully analysed according to a number of criteria considered important, in order to find a book that all can read with interest. The information is loaded into a database so that comparisons can be made. The result is an algorithm, which produces a shortlist of six titles. A panel of volunteers spends two months reading and deliberating, before coming to its final decision: the chosen Kingston University Big Read.
Here is a list of our previous winning titles since the beginning of the project in 2015:
In 2016/17 we shared our Big Read with Edinburgh Napier, to explore how pre-arrival shared-reading worked across two universities committed to widening participation. In 2017/18 we worked with Wolverhampton University and in 2018/19 with Wolverhampton, Edge Hill University and the University of the West of Scotland. In both 2020/21 and 2021/22 we worked with Edge Hill University and St. George's, University of London. In both 2022/23 and 2023/24, we are working with St. George's, University of London and Royal Holloway, University of London.
We work with many partners to bring you the Kingston University Big Read. These include publishers, authors, Kingston Borough, and the Higher Education sector. All the universities we have worked with are institutions committed to widening participation. If you would like to know more, or consider becoming a partner too, please contact us at email@example.com.
We have been pleased to work with the following publishers:
In 2016 Kingston University teamed up with the global book club and digital reading platform, The Pigeonhole, to digitally serialise the year's Kingston University Big Read choice, Matt Haig's The Humans.
The partnership with The Pigeonhole allowed a further 10,000 members of staff and existing students to join the scheme and receive a free digital version of the book via an app and web-reader which they used to interact with each other before and after arriving at the University.
Working closely with our local community, the Big Read joined forces with the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, specifically working closely with local libraries in the area. We have spoken at a meeting of Kingston Council and collaborated with colleagues in various departments.
Joel Community Services is a local night shelter community based on mutual respect, support and co-operation. In 2016 the Big Read gave a number of our special edition copies of The Humans to guests and volunteers at Joel Community Services. Author Matt Haig was keen to join them for a meal and discussion, both about the book and his work as an author. We have remained in touch ever since.
If you would like more information regarding the Kingston University Big Read, to suggest a title, or to volunteer to be part of an upcoming selection committee, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, for press information, please contact the Kingston University Communications team.