BAMBERG, Germany - A classic American novel, along with a library project here, has connected American and German teenagers while also encouraging the youth to increase their reading practices.

Literature classes from the Albert Schweitzer High School in nearby Erlangen and the high school on U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg recently held a read-out at the Bamberg Community Library as part of the "The Big Read" program, a National Endowment for the Arts initiative designed to restore reading to the center of American culture.

For the get-together, the 10th graders discussed Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," which they read in their respective English classes prior to meeting.

This type of bonding "is part of our outreach program," said Karen Lazzeri, Bamberg's library director, "which includes working with three German libraries, their English-reading book clubs and the high school."

As for this most recent event, "The feedback from the students was excellent; it's been an extraordinary event for them," said Stephanie Keen, the English teacher at Albert Schweitzer.

Keen added that German visitors came away impressed with Warner Barracks and surprised to learn that the garrison is actually a city of its own within the city of Bamberg. Plus, she said, the left with an increased motivation to improve their English.

Terra McAllister, a teacher at Bamberg High School considered the read-out "an excellent experience for her students."