Vermont Humanities

Vermont Reads

A Statewide Community Reading Program
Author Katherine Paterson with student
Vermont Reads

Since 2003, Vermont Humanities has invited students, adults, and seniors across the state to read the same book and participate in a wide variety of community activities related to the book’s themes. In 2021, we shifted this annual program to start each year on July 1.

Over 200 different Vermont towns, cities, and villages have participated in Vermont Reads to date. Schools, libraries, service organizations, churches, businesses, or other community-based organizations can start by filling out a brief application.

Black and white cartoon drawing of a farmer in rubber boots with cows in a Vermont barn yard

Vermont Reads 2022: The Most Costly Journey

Vermont Reads is a statewide, one-book reading program. Communities host programs related to the book’s themes. “The Most Costly Journey” is the Vermont Reads book from July 2022 through June 2023. It’s an anthology of comics that depict the oral histories of migrant workers who traveled from southern Mexico and Central America to work on Vermont farms.

Author Katherine Paterson with student

Vermont Reads Past Picks

A list of the books selected since 2003 for our state-wide community reading program.

Congressman John Lewis (center) with Woodstock Union High School students in Burlington in October, 2019

Vermont Humanities Wins Award for Outstanding Public Programming

Vermont Humanities recently won one of two 2020 Schwartz Prizes for best public humanities programming in the U.S. for Vermont Reads 2019: “March: Book One.”

Cartoon of a woman sitting upright in a sleeping bag in the desert

Every North American should read this book in order to understand the disturbing degree to which we all depend on the self-sacrifice of these workers. El Viaje Más Caro is a profound act of witness.

Alison Bechdel
Author of "Fun Home"

Vermont Reads 2022

The Most Costly Journey (El Viaje Más Caro)

Our Vermont Reads 2022 choice tells the stories of 19 immigrant farm workers in Vermont in their own words. Illustrated by New England cartoonists in a variety of styles, each short chapter describes aspects of life as an immigrant worker: crossing the southern border, struggling with English, adapting to winter, growing gardens, raising children, dealing with health crises, and working long hours.

LEARN MORE ABOUT VERMONT READS 2022

Upcoming Vermont Reads Events

The golden dome atop the captial building in Montpelier, Vermont sits agains an overcast sky
Live Event

Changing Times: Reconciliation or Retribution

Changing racial demographics predict that those who identify as white will be in the minority by 2050. Rev. Thomas considers whether Vermont—one of the whitest states in the nation—is prepared to confront the growing presence of people of color within its own borders. He reflects on the recent ideological civil war that aims to maintain the status quo.  

A document sits on the pavement and the headline reads IMMIGRATION
Digital Event

“The Other Side of Hope:” Films About Immigration

Filmmakers have tackled issues of displacement, discrimination, exploitation, and assimilation in movies like The Other Side of Hope (Syrians in Finland) and Dirty Pretty Things (West Africans in London.) Film history expert Rick Winston shares clips from fifteen works that address one of the most pressing issues of our times. 

a balck and white photo of men wearing hats heaving hay into a wagon
Digital Event

Haymaking, Barns, and Farm Memories

In his book The Haymakers: A Chronicle of Five Farm Families, Steven Hoffbeck shows that haymaking was more than just harvesting grass, alfalfa, and clover. It was about toil, fears, and the fragile nature of human life. Anyone who grew up on a farm—or wishes they had grown up on a farm—will enjoy the insights and humor of this multimedia presentation. 

a volunteer conservationist hold hula hoops and stands in a forest wearing a mask
Digital Event

Biodiversity, Conservation, and Civic Participation in Paraguay

South America’s Atlantic Forest is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. Cristian Fretes Ojeda, technical trainer for Peace Corps Paraguay, discusses how civic participation is leading the effort to conserve crucial natural areas like the Atlantic Forest and the Gran Chaco, which span several South American countries. 

Three stones standing in sand, one with "haiku" painted on it in black letters
Live Event

The Art of the Haiku

Poet Keiselim (Keysi) Montás discusses how to read the traditional Japanese poetic form of haiku, illustrated with works from his haiku collection, Like Water.

a path leads out on to a rock ledge that overlooks a bay or ocean at sunset
Live Event

Arribada- A Novel

Author and Middlebury professor Gloria Estela Gonzalez Zenteno discusses her new novel Arribada, about a woman pushed to confront her role in environmental and social injustice, and a well-to-do family’s realization that their comfortable position rests on crimes against the natural world, their town, and their loved ones. 

A character stretches out while sitting on the floor next to a bicycle pump and a pair of skis
Live Event

The Secret to Superhuman Strength 

Celebrated cartoonist Alison Bechdel discusses her work as an illustrator and memoirist, including her most recent book, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, a graphic memoir about her lifelong love affair with exercise that won the 2021 Vermont Book Award. 

two chairs sit on a deck overlooking the water, one chair is overturned
Live Event

Poetry Reflections with Richard Blanco

Selected by President Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in US history, Richard Blanco is the first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity characterizes his four collections of poetry.  

image of the city of Berlin drawn by Jason Lutes
Live Event

Building Berlin: the Genesis of a Graphic Novel

The graphic novel Berlin by Jason Lutes depicts life during the rise of fascism in post-WWI Germany. Lutes discusses his development as a cartoonist—with inspiration from William Faulkner to Dungeons & Dragons, Wim Wenders to Star Wars—that culminated in the creation of a book The Guardian called “a modern classic.”

a farm worker walks through a field masked carrying a catd and a box
Live Event

Essential Work in the Food System: Imagining a Better Future

Consumers are increasingly concerned with what goes into their food and demand a healthier and more ecologically sustainable food system. However, labor is rarely part of the so-called sustainable food discussion. Dr. Mares shares her ongoing research on food and farmworkers, focusing both on local labor concerns in the dairy industry and national conversations about essential work.

Vermont Reads Supporters

Vermont Humanities is grateful to the underwriter of Vermont Reads 2022, Jan Blomstrann, and for the support of the Jack & Dorothy Byrne Foundation.

Vermont Reads is presented in partnership with The National Endowment for the Humanities—A More Perfect Union Initiative as part of an effort to deepen public understanding of the American experience—in all its complexities—and enhance the knowledge, skills, and capacities needed to sustain a thriving republic and to commemorate our 250th anniversary as a nation.

Vermont Humanities*** November 16, 2014