2024 Great Reads from Great Places

Every year since 2002, the Ohio Center for the Book has had the honor of selecting a book to represent our state in the national Great Reads from Great Places initiative. Those titles are highlighted at the annual National Book Festival in Washington, DC, as well as being placed on the permanent list of honoree titles.

Each state selects a book written for young readers and a book written for an adult audience. (Check out the press release from the Library of Congress that highlights all the 2024 Great Reads from Great Places selection!)

We are proud to announce the following titles chosen to represent Ohio for the 2024 Great Reads from Great Places:

You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce! The Storied Life of Folk Artist Elijah Pierce tells a story of Elijah Pierce (March 5, 1892 – May 7, 1984) who made his home in Columbus, Ohio; working in his barbershop; and sharing his life and artwork with a young customer. Elijah Pierce was an accomplished woodcarver and was awarded many accolades during his lifetime, including first prize in the International Meeting of Native Art (Zagreb, Yugoslavia, 1973) and a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship (1982). After his death, the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing and Cultural Arts Complex in Columbus, Ohio, named their Elijah Pierce Gallery in his honor.

Settling Ohio: First Peoples and Beyond is an anthology of essays resulting from a conference hosted by Ohio University and convened, in part, as a response to David McCullough’s book The Pioneers. The essays, written for both academics and “a broader public curious to learn more about the diverse peoples…that shaped the history of what became known as ‘Ohio'” cover a wide range of topics, including the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks (which received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2023) and Johnny Appleseed. The Afterword, History vs. Legacy, is written by Chief Glenna J. Wallace of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. She is the first woman ever elected to this office.

2024 Great Reads Honoree for Youth

You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce! The Storied Life of Folk Artist Elijah Pierce written by Chiquita Mullins Lee and Carmella Van Vleet with illustrations by Jennifer Mack-Watkins

“Based on the true story of Elijah Pierce and his community barber shop in Columbus, Ohio, this picture book includes cleverly collaged museum-sourced photos of his art and informative backmatter about his life. With engaging text by Pierce to the Soul! playwright Chiquita Mullins-Lee and Christopher Award-winning author Carmella Van Vleet, it’s illustrated with striking Japanese woodblock by Jennifer Mack-Watkins. A new addition to vital Black art history!” ~ from the publisher

Additional Resources on Elijah Pierce

2024 Great Reads Honoree for Adults

Settling Ohio: First Peoples and Beyond edited by Timothy G. Anderson and Brian Schoen

Settling Ohio provides an introduction to the complex story of how Ohio became “Ohio,” and we hope it entices readers to explore the many topics discussed further.

“Scholars working in archaeology, education, history, geography, and politics tell a nuanced story about the people and dynamics that reshaped this region and determined who would control it.

“The book situates the traditional story of Ohio settlement, including the Northwest Ordinance, the dealings of the Ohio Company of Associates, and early road building, into a far richer story of contested spaces, competing visions of nationhood, and complicated relations with Indian peoples…

“A final theme of this volume is the desirability of working to recover the often-forgotten history of non-White peoples displaced by the processes of settler colonialism that has been, until recently, undervalued in the scholarship.” ~ excerpts from the publisher

The book contains:

  • Foreword by M. Duane Nellis
  • Introduction by Brian Schoen
  • PART I: First Nations
    • The True Pioneers: A Brief Overview of Prehistoric Native Americans in Ohio by Joseph A.M. Gingerich
    • Situating Settlement in Ohio: The Eighteenth Century from Local and Atlantic Perspectives by Cameron Shriver
    • 3 Who Speaks in the Name of the Miami Nation? by John Bickers
  • PART 2: American Foundations
    • Ohio, the Northwest Ordinance, and the Constitutional Foundations of the United States by Jessica Choppin Roney
    • Selective Migration and the Production of Ohio’s Regional Cultural Landscapes: A Genealogical Geography by Timothy G. Anderson
    • (Re)tracing Zane: Zane’s Trace and Production of Space in the Ohio Country by William M. Hunter
    • Ice Water Baths and Rising Waters: Dudley Woodbridge Jr.’s Commercial Connections along the Ohio and Its Tributaries in the Early Republic by Kim M. Gruenwald
    • Johnny Appleseed and Apple Cultures in Early Ohio by William Kerrigan
  • PART 3: Alternative Histories
    • What If Manasseh Cutler Were Black? The History of the Diverse Pioneers Who Created Ohio by Anna-Lisa Cox
    • Federalist Failure: Conflict and Disorder in the Northwest Territory by Joseph Thomas Ross
    • Public Education in the Old Northwest: Legacies of Ohio’s First Land Grant by Adam R. Nelson
    • Conclusion by Timothy G. Anderson
  • Afterword: History vs. Legacy by Chief Glenna J. Wallace

Additional Resources for Settling Ohio

Keynote Presentation Recordings from the Settling Ohio: First Peoples and Beyond Conference held at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, February 21 and 22, 2020

The National Book Festival Roadmap to Reading is made possible by the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional support from Chief Officers of State Library Agencies.