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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.

2014 Common Reading Program

International Bank of BobThey Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The Story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan
By Benjamin Ajak, Bensen Deng, Alephonsian Deng and Judy Bernstein

Benjamin, Alepho, and Benson were raised among the Dinka tribe of Sudan. Their world was an insulated, close-knit community of grass-roofed cottages, cattle herders, and tribal councils. The lions and pythons that prowled beyond the village fences were the greatest threat they knew. All that changed the night the government-armed Murahiliin began attacking their villages. Amid the chaos, screams, conflagration, and gunfire, five-year-old Benson and seven-year-old Benjamin fled into the dark night. Two years later, Alepho, age seven, was forced to do the same. Across the Southern Sudan, over the next five years, thousands of other boys did likewise, joining this stream of child refugees that became known as the Lost Boys. Their journey would take them over one thousand miles across a war-ravaged country, through landmine-sown paths, crocodile-infested waters, and grotesque extremes of hunger, thirst, and disease. The refugee camps they eventually filtered through offered little respite from the brutality they were fleeing.

In They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, Alepho, Benson, and Benjamin, by turn, recount their experiences along this unthinkable journey. They vividly recall the family, friends, and tribal world they left far behind them and their desperate efforts to keep track of one another. This is a captivating memoir of Sudan and a powerful portrait of war as seen through the eyes of children. And it is, in the end, an inspiring and unforgettable tribute to the tenacity of even the youngest human spirits.

Common Reading Archive

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