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.


Upcoming Vermont Reads Events

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

Book Discussion Group: The Most Costly Journey

All are welcome for a virtual discussion of The Most Costly Journey, drawn by New England cartoonists. This is a Vermont Humanities Community Read. Multiple copies are available at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library in the Book Group Section of the Reading Room.

Detail of cover of The Most Costly Journey, showing a drawing of a Mexican man holding a paintbrush and a photo of his family
Live Event

Vermont Reads: Podcast Interviews

Bring a friend or family member to share a short story about finding yourself in new places or situation. Your story will be edited by teens and shared with the wider community as part of our 2023 Vermont Reads Programming about “The Most Costly Journey.” Prompts and easy-to-follow instructions will be available, along with help from a youth librarian.

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

A Round Table Discussion on Graphic Novel Story Telling and Mental Health Communication

A round table discussion facilitated by Dr. Alan Berolzheimer, Project Historian and Assistant Director at The Flow of History, will lead conversation centered on the human experience explored in The Most Costly Journey.

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.  

a tall rusted wall of metal in the desert
Live Event

Vermont Reads: Book Discussion ‘The Line Becomes a River’

Join us for “The Line Becomes a River” by Francisco Cantu book discussion at the Bugbee Senior Center. We will also be looking at ‘The Most Costly Journey.”

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

The Most Costly Journey Community Book Discussion

Come join in an interesting and informative community book discussion of The Most Costly Journey, a Vermont Reads book drawn by New England cartoonists.

Workers sitting outside a Hannaford's Supermarket with signs about Migrant Justice
Live Event

An Interactive Speaking Event with Migrant Justice on Action for the Migrant Population

In this interactive speaking event Vermont’s leading non-profit group fighting for farmworkers rights, Migrant Justice, will discuss the Milk With Dignity campaign. Migrant Justice will be giving an informational talk about the campaign while providing attendees functional tools and call to actions for supporting the rights of Vermont’s migrant farmworker population.

Workers sitting outside a Hannaford's Supermarket with signs about Migrant Justice
Live Event

The Most Costly Journey Book Read + Migrant Justice’s “Milk with Dignity Campaign”

Voices of Inclusion in Essex and Westford (VIEW), Migrant Justice, Phoenix Books, and Essex Free Library present this opportunity to gather in community and discuss The Most Costly Journey. We will discuss the book and receive a presentation from members of Migrant Justice as part of their Milk with Dignity Campaign to learn more about the rampant abuses that workers face on dairy farms and the powerful organizing they are doing to improve conditions and protect their rights.

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.”

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