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

A red barn stands in the white snow in the winter of Vermont
Live Event

Vermonters and the Land

UVM professor Cheryl Morse—who studies how people perceive, co-produce, and experience rural places—reports on how different groups of Vermonters have engaged with land as landscape, place, and environment in recent years, and why these engagements matter in contemporary land debates.

A drawing of a woman standing on a pile of pharmaceutical pills
Live Event

What is Graphic Medicine?

Author and cartoonist Rachel Lindsay explores the themes of mental illness and psychopharmaceutical advertising, as chronicled in her book RX: A Graphic Memoir.

Vegetables and herbs hang to dry in front of a white wall
Live Event

Agrarian Storytelling & More

Members of the agrarian community share stories about food sovereignty, resilience, and being rooted in the land in this Fall Festival 2022 event hosted by Rural Vermont. Join us for an evening of storytelling and connection! Light snacks will be served.

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

“The Most Costly Journey” Latin American Migrant Workers, Health Care, and Collaborative Non-Fiction Comics

In this presentation, Andy Kolovos from the Vermont Folklife Center and Julia Grand Doucet from the Open Door Clinic provide an overview of the goals of the El Viaje Más Caro Project, the collaborative methods that define its approach, and insight into the lives and experiences of the workers whose labor supports the continued viability of dairy farming in Vermont.

A drone sits in a hangar looking out on a desert and mountain as a man in a jumpsuit walks towards it.
Hybrid Event

Dirty Work with Author Eyal Press

Journalist Eyal Press discusses his reporting for his award-winning book “Dirty Work: Essential Jobs and the Hidden Toll of Inequality in America” which examines the morally troubling jobs that society tacitly condones, and the hidden class of workers who do them.

Three people sitting on a wooden platform, one on left playing a hand drum while the two on right sing
Live Event

Garifuna Collective: Keeping Culture Alive

In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day (October 10), the Chandler Center for the Arts hosts a conversation with members of the internationally renowned Garifuna Collective. They’ll relate stories about their ancestors and the displacement of the Garifuna people to Honduras and Belize.

Illustration of a woman walking across a farm wearing a winter coat.
Live Event

Non-Fiction Comics Festival

From science to politics, history to health care, cartooning has exploded as a legitimate medium for exploring non-fiction topics and the textures of lived experience. The first ever Non-Fiction Comics Festival will feature panel discussions, workshops, and exhibits by cartoonists who create non-fiction and autobiographical work.

Three young Mexican brothers wearing white and black T-shirts in a white room, each holding a box on the same fiddle
Live Event

The Villalobos Brothers in Concert

Born in Xalapa, Mexico, The Villalobos Brothers have been acclaimed as one of today’s leading contemporary Mexican ensembles. Their original compositions and arrangements masterfully fuse and celebrate the richness of Mexican folk music with the intricate harmonies of jazz and classical music.

Illustration of people gathered around a document to discuss civics
Live Event

Freedom and Unity Launch Party

Hosted by the Center for Cartoon Studies, this lively presentation about the making of Freedom and Unity, A Graphic Guide to Vermont Democracy will feature the cartoonists and scholars that helped create a comic book about the past, present, and potential of democracy and civics in Vermont.

Two elderly men sit in front of a white door on a red brick house while a dog watches through the window
Live Event

Migration Pathways: Stories of Yesterday and Today

Andrew Ingall, creator of the project “Warlé, Yesterday, and Today,” leads a participatory workshop inspired by the lives and legacy of Warren Kronemeyer and Leon Ingall, a Vermont couple who were entrepreneurs and civic leaders in Townshend, VT during the 1980 and 1990s.

Two Cosplayers at the New York ComicCon in 2016 are dressed as Mr. Freeze and Black Panther and stand facing each other against a gray wall
Live Event

Diasporic Immigrant Superheroes: From Foreign to BIPOC & LGBTQ+

Middlebury College professor Enrique García reviews the American superhero genre and how it has served as a tool to disseminate utopian ideas about immigration and the American Dream. While discussing characters such as Superman, Wonder Woman, Black Panther, and La Borinqueña, García reflects on comic artists’ struggles to overcome imperial ideas of white supremacy, heteronormativity, and American exceptionalism.

A drawing of a Civil War soldier standing on a cold field in black and white
Live Event

Drawing Community: Creating Comics from Shared Stories

Using examples from his work with the Vermont Reads 2022 book The Most Costly Journey (El Viaje Más Caro) and his Civil War Diary of Freeman Colby series, cartoonist Marek Bennett explores how the act of cartooning can help us forge connections, build empathy, and challenge set definitions of identity and belonging. 

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