Avila Home Page
Helpful Links
Campus Life

Contact Residence Life
Contact Student Life

Avila Care Team

The Common Reading Program for First Year Students

Avila University has incorporated a common reading for all first year students as part of the First Year Experience program called The Common Reading Program. Student success research is very clear about how this type of program can assist in emphasizing academic importance prior to the start of classes and assist in building community within the first year class.

All first year students will receive information about The Common Reading Program during S.O.A.R. This information will include a cover letter describing the program which details an assignment. The assignment includes reading a series of articles or a book and responding with an essay that is due prior to the start of classes. The topic of the Common Reading Program is global in nature and may vary from year to year. In addition to the readings and essay assignment, during New Student Orientation in August, students will be divided up by First Year Seminar class (both FS 101 and 102) and instructors will be provided with a detailed lesson plan to discuss the reading, essays and become more familiar with the topic.

2015 Common Reading Program

The Big Truck That Went ByThe Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster
By Jonathan M. Katz

On January 12, 2010, the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere struck the nation least prepared to handle one. Jonathan M. Katz, the only full-time American news correspondent in Haiti, was inside his house when it buckled along with hundreds of thousands of others. In this visceral first-hand account, Katz takes readers inside the terror of that day, the devastation visited on ordinary Haitians, and through the monumental – yet misbegotten – rescue effort that followed.

More than half of American adults gave money for Haiti, part of a global response that reached $16.3 billion in pledges. Its most important promises to rebuild safer cities, alleviate severe poverty, and strengthen Haiti to face future disasters remain unfulfilled. How did so much generosity amount to so little? What went wrong?

The Big Truck That Went By presents a hard hitting investigation into international aid, finding that the way wealthy countries give today makes poor countries seem irredeemably hopeless, while trapping millions in cycles of privation and catastrophe. Katz follows the money to uncover startling truths about how good intentions go wrong, and what can be done to make aid "smarter."

Reporting at the side of Bill Clinton, Wyclef Jean, Sean Penn, Haiti's leaders and people, Katz also creates a complex, darkly funny, and unexpected portrait of one of the world's most fascinating countries. The Big Truck That Went By is not only a definitive account of Haiti's earthquake, but of the world we live in today.

Katz received the Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for his reporting from Haiti as well as numerous awards in 2013 for best books.

Jonathan Katz will serve as Avila University’s 2015 Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.

Books are available in the Avila University Book Store.

Summary From: Book Browse at www.bookbrowse.com.

Common Reading Archive


They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky "They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky" By Benjamin Ajak, Bensen Deng, Alephonsian Deng
and Judy Bernstein

The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan.


International Bank of Bob
"The International Bank of Bob" By Bob Harris
Connecting our worlds one $25 Kiva Loan at a time.


Unbroken Book Cover
"Unbroken" by Laura Hilenbrand
A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption


The Boy Who Harnesse the Wind Book Cover"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer



Always Enough
Finding the Flexibility to Survive
The Time to Help Is Now


Finding the Flexibility to Survive
The Time to Help Is Now