About the Vermont Humanities Council

Because Ideas Matter

Vermont Humanities Selects Katherine Paterson’s Bread and Roses, Too for Vermont Reads 2018

The Vermont Humanities Council has selected Vermont author Katherine Paterson’s book Bread and Roses, Too as its Vermont Reads book for 2018.

Vermont Reads is a statewide one-book community reading program that began in 2003. VHC provides books for free to communities through an application process as well as resources for developing community book-related activities. Since the beginning of the program, Vermont Reads events have taken place in over 200 Vermont towns.

Bread and Roses, Too is a novel of historical fiction that tells the story of the 1912 “Bread and Roses” strike in the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile mills through the eyes of an Italian-American girl and a runaway boy. The novel relates the journey of Rosa, who, along with Jake and other children, are sent temporarily out of harm’s way to foster families in Barre, Vermont, as children actually were during the strike.

The book will allow communities to explore many topics, including the immigrant experience in America, labor history, and local Vermont history. The book takes its name from the strikers’ banners in the story that proclaimed, “We want bread and roses, too.”

Paterson is a world-renowned children’s author and Vermont resident. She has published more than 30 books, including 16 novels for children and young people. She has twice won the Newbery Medal, for Bridge to Terabithia in 1978 and Jacob Have I Loved in 1981. She also earned the National Book Award for The Master Puppeteer (1977) and The Great Gilly Hopkins (1979). She has received numerous other awards, and in 2000 the Library of Congress named her a Living Legend.

Bread and Roses, Too is the second of Paterson’s books to be chosen for Vermont Reads; her novel The Day of the Pelican, about an Albanian refugee family who moves to Barre, was the Vermont Reads pick in 2010. In Bread and Roses, Too Paterson tells a story rooted in an important historical event with Vermont ties.

“I’m always looking for something to write about,” Paterson said. “In the Aldrich Library in Barre, I saw this picture of all these children standing on the steps of the Old Labor Hall. The caption was, ‘Children from the Lawrence strike come to Barre.’ . . .  I had one of those writerly chills up and down the spine that said, ‘There’s a story here that needs to be uncovered.'”

Paterson looks forward to the kind of community enthusiasm and exchange of ideas with Bread and Roses, Too as was seen with her previous Vermont Reads book. “[For] The Day of the Pelican, it was wonderful,” she said. “I went to a lot of immigrant communities. Places where they would tell about their own experiences. I love that kind of sharing. I’m sure that if I go to different places, and talk about Bread and Roses, there will be people there who know the story better than I do in some ways.”

Vermont Reads brings people together in communities around the state to read, discuss, and build activities around the book—promoting community-building, open dialogue, inter-generational exchange, a focus on the humanities, and literacy.

Paterson’s book offers many opportunities for rich community events and activities such as book discussions, dramatic readings, local historical presentations, art projects, sing-alongs, and more. Vermont Public Radio, the Vermont Reads media partner, will air features that offer excellent opportunities for further discussion (air dates and times will be publicized when made final).

Jan Blomstrann is the underwriter of the 2018 Vermont Reads program. The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation also supports the program.

A brief application, submitted by a community-based organization such as a library, school, historical society, or social service organization, is all it takes to get started. Deadlines for applying are December 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018 for priority consideration. Communities will receive up to 75 books, based on the strength of their application, as well as multiple resource and publicity materials. To apply, visit vtreads.org or contact Richelle Franzoni at or 802.262.1355.

About Vermont Reads

2018 marks the 16th year of the Vermont Reads program, in which the Vermont Humanities Council invites citizens across the state to read the same book and participate in a wide variety of community activities related to the book’s themes. Over two hundred different Vermont towns and cities have participated in Vermont Reads to date.

About Vermont Humanities Council

Vermont Humanities Council is a private nonprofit working to bring the power and the pleasure of the humanities to all Vermonters—of every background and in every community. The Council strives to make Vermont a state in which every individual reads, participates in public affairs, and continues to learn throughout life. Because Ideas Matter.