MHC Home Home of the Harriet P. Henry Center for the Book
Home  | About MHC  | Programs  | Grants  | Newsletters  | Contact Us  | Search | Donate   
"[The experience of reading] goes into my heart. I read [the books] all the time...and every time they touch me more. They change my life around..."

"You couldn't get me to read a book before. Now I love to pick up a book. I like to read now. I used to hate it and now I pick up a book every time I turn around."

"I am more at ease with myself and the people around me because I have opened my mind to another experience."

"I look at a book from a different point of view. To talk about the books in the groups is even better. You get to see how other people interpret the same book. ...New Books, New Readers has changed the way I look at books."

Check out the Book List. We have one new series, What it Takes.


NEW BOOKS, NEW READERS is a humanities-based book discussion program for adults who are new readers or who are not in the habit of reading. It opens the world of books and ideas through literature that is accessible and thought-provoking, encouraging reading as an enjoyable lifelong personal and family activity.

Participants learn to love reading when they're engaged in discussion centered on humanities themes — themes that relate to their lives. They are given a copy of every book in the series to keep and are encouraged to share their enjoyment with family and friends.

NEW BOOKS, NEW READERS is meant for adults of every age, from the lowest literacy levels to those involved in GED preparation. The program can be sponsored by any organization interested in encouraging people to learn that books can play an important role in every life, helping us to understand ourselves in relation to our world and each other. The Council works with local groups such as Adult Basic Education, Literacy Volunteers, Even Start, Head Start, parenting programs, correctional education programs, and public libraries, who cooperate to present NEW BOOKS, NEW READERS in their communities.

Humanities-based Book Discussion using the NEW BOOKS, NEW READERS model was designated a "Promising Practice" by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, in partnership with the New England Literacy Resource Center, in 2004. It can be seen at the NELRC website.


A typical NEW BOOKS, NEW READERS series uses nine books from the best of children's literature-from first grade to sixth grade levels-related through a common theme. Each series has four sessions, usually monthly. All are informal. The first welcomes participants to the site and assures that everyone understands what will happen during the program. In each succeeding session, three books, from three different reading levels, together form the basis for discussion, so that all may participate.

The sessions are facilitated by humanities scholars, who draw on their own teaching experience to help shape the flow and direction of the discussion. The scholars receive training to help them understand the challenges of working with adults whose reading levels may be very low and who have never regarded books as an important part of their lives.

New Books, New Readers:

  • works with sponsoring organizations to plan their program
  • purchases books and distributes them to the program site
  • recruits and trains facilitators
  • provides help and advice as needed

Sponsoring organizations:

  • work together to organize the local site and schedule
  • recruit participants and encourage them to attend regularly
  • distribute books to participants
  • work with participants to read the books
  • send teachers, tutors, or staff members to be part of each discussion

To learn more or to inquire about sponsoring NEW BOOKS, NEW READERS in your community, please contact:

Julia R. Walkling, Program Director
Maine Humanities Council
674 Brighton Avenue
Portland, ME 04102
phone: 773-5051        fax: 773-2416


Check out the Book List. We have two new series, Caught Between Cultures and Why Read?

Back to Program Page

NBNR is supported in 2013-2014 by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the generous sponsors of MHC's Winter Weekend, the Helen & George Ladd Charitable Corporation, the Davis Family Foundation, and the People's United Community Foundation.

  The Maine Humanities Council
Home of the Harriet P. Henry Center for the Book

For additional information about the Council and its programs,
please write, call or e-mail us:
674 Brighton Avenue, Portland, ME 04102

Toll Free Number: 1-866-MEreader or 1-866-637-3233
Phone: (207) 773-5051      Fax: (207) 773-2416


© Maine Humanities Council, 2002—2014

Please contact Donna Jones at West End Webs for questions or problems with the web site.