First-Year Reading Initiative (FYRI) 2014

This year's featured FYRI book is The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. The Good Lord Bird is the fictional memoir of Henry Shackleford, a teenaged slave in Kansas who joins up with the abolitionist John Brown. Shackleford narrates his encounters with historical figures such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman as well as the events of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. Described as both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival, The Good Lord Bird is an absorbing mixture of history and imagination. Our first-year students have been asked to stretch their own imaginations by considering what it is like to come of age under the radically foreign circumstances of self-reliance, hidden identity, and enslaved relationships.

For more information about the book, please visit the Ithaca College Library's webpage here

Every year Ithaca College selects a featured book for the First-Year Reading Initiative. Students received the book during their visit to campus for orientation and are asked to read it before they return in August. Upon their arrival for the fall semester, first-year students heard a faculty presentation about the book and then participated in a small-group discussion facilitated by a faculty or staff member.

We cordially invite students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alumni to join us in Hockett Family Recital Hall on November 3 from 7:30 - 8:30 p.m., when author James McBride will talk about The Good Lord Bird. The author's presentation and Q&A session will be followed by a book signing in McHenry Lobby.

The First-Year Reading Initiative introduces students to the community of learners that is Ithaca College. It provides an opportunity for them to meet faculty, staff, and other new students from many different departments. It allows them to consider an important issue outside of the constraints of the classroom and suggests the value of lifelong and independent learning. It also emphasizes the academic nature of the Ithaca College community by offering the incoming class a shared academic experience prior to the start of classes. This is one of the very first academic experiences students have at IC. It is hoped that the themes raised by the text will serve as a catalyst for discussion in residence halls, dining halls, and other informal gathering places.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Tammy Sritecha at or (607) 274-3113. We ask that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible.