Laguna Blanca School was honored to host Tim O’Brien, the author of The Things They Carried, for a special assembly on Thursday, October 24 at the Upper School campus in Hope Ranch. Mr. O’Brien visited Santa Barbara as part of The Big Read, a nation-wide reading and discussion forum presented by the Santa Barbara Public Library System and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Through the collective efforts of Bevery Schwartzber from the Library and Laguna Blanca alumni parent Hap Freund, Laguna Blanca faculty and staff welcomed Mr. O’Brien to the school and facilitated a discussion with 200 students about The Things They Carried, a collection of linked short stories about a platoon of soldiers serving in Vietnam.

In preparation for the special assembly, teachers from the Upper School brought Mr. O’Brien’s literature into their classrooms to educate students about his writing style, the novel, and its place in history. Laguna Blanca History instructor Kevin Shertzer taught students about the Vietnam War through a powerful narrative storytelling form, and French instructor Maud Maillard had her students translate a chapter of O’Brien’s book into French.

As a result of the school’s participation in The Big Read, Laguna English instructors Ashley Tidey and Charles Donelan have championed the school’s very own “Little Big Read” program. This new program is a hybrid book club/homework activity designed to support instruction through parent involvement, while encouraging the love of reading and more importantly, the power of reading together. The program will begin with parents, students, and faculty reading Tim O’Brien’s short essay “Telling Tails,” which describes his discovery of the importance of sharing the experience of storytelling with his young sons.

As a formal debut of the “Little Big Read” program at Laguna Blanca School, Tidey and Donelan will host a presentation entitled “Sustaining the Big Read: New Strategies for Supporting Learners in the Humanities” on Wednesday, November 13 at 7:00pm at the school’s Isham Library and Nylen Academic Research Center. This special event will be an evening of information and discussion that will provide an overview of the nation-wide Big Read programs – its goals, benefits, and long-term purpose – along with insights into recent developments in the pedagogy of reading and writing.

To learn more about Laguna Blanca School’s “Little Big Read” program and the “Sustaining the Big Read” presentation, please contact Ashley Tidey at (805) 687-1752 or at

Laguna Blanca NOW—for today’s modern student. Laguna Blanca School is a K-12 co-educational, college preparatory day school. Laguna Blanca School guides students to greater heights by building upon the 80-year tradition of academic excellence with new and innovative teaching methods and programs. With the thriving global studies program, resourceful iPad initiative, competitive Condor League athletics, and the state-of-the-art academic research center, the School continues to broaden and enrich our students’ educational experience. For more information, please visit


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.