Public Media Kicks Off a Summer of Reading with The Great American Read

May 21, 2018

The Great American Read

CPB is a proud partner in the nationwide initiative The Great American Read, a new PBS multi-platform series that celebrates the joy of reading and the books we love. Hosted by television personality and journalist Meredith Vieira, the program launches with a two-hour episode on May 22, 2018 at 8 p.m. (ET) broadcast on public media stations nationwide (check local listings).  

With CPB support, more than 100 public media stations around the country are working with PBS, local libraries, bookstores, charitable organizations, schools and other groups to host community events to encourage reading and deepen conversations centered around the top 100 books highlighted in The Great American Read.

The chosen books were selected through a demographically representative national survey conducted by YouGov. They span five centuries, from "Don Quixote" (1603) to "Ghost" (2016). Authors from 15 different countries are represented, with genres ranging from beloved children’s classics such as "Charlotte’s Web" to modern best-sellers such as "Twilight." 

Audience members are invited to discuss the Top 100 books in virtual and community events organized by local public television stations, libraries and book reading clubs, and vote all summer for their favorites. Celebrities, authors, superfans and everyday Americans will share the ways books have influenced them and their significance in American culture. Then in the fall, PBS will air five themed episodes, including an exciting finale, culminating in the first-ever national vote to choose “America’s Best-Loved Novel.”

You can take a quiz to see how many of America’s favorite novels you’ve read and, starting May 22, vote for your personal favorite.

The Great American Read premieres May 22 on PBS

Examples of local community events include in Michigan, where WKAR will host, in partnership with the Lansing City Market, a free Movie Night on the River outdoor viewing of “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” from “The Chronicles of Narnia” series. Moviegoers can enjoy the film by kayak, picnic blanket or lawn chair and learn about ways to watch the series and engage on social media. 

In Salt Lake City, Utah, KUED held a kickoff event at the downtown City Library bringing together independent booksellers, the State Library and its Reading for the Blind program, the County Library, the Community Writing Center, Utah Humanities, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, and others to engage with more than 200 learners. Participants had the chance to create bookmarks, write poems, construct original art books, and print their name in braille as part of the family-friendly event. KUED displayed the winners of their Kids Writers & Illustrators Contest and filmed community members “pitching” their favorite book.

The Great American Read - KUED Event Photos
KUED partners with local literacy organizations for an event at the City Library as part of The Great American Read. Courtesy: KUED

“Our kickoff event was a good representation of the strategic partnerships KUED has in the community, and the perfect opportunity to strengthen our relationship with organizations that value literacy,” said James Morgese, KUED general manager. “We look forward to promoting this program throughout the summer and again in the fall when the five-part broadcast series begins.”

PBS is also developing educational resources and materials, including lesson plans and virtual book clubs, to encourage summer reading activities and extend the campaign into classrooms for the fall. PBS KIDS will host PBS KIDS READ as part of an annual summer learning initiative for children ages 2-8 and their families, encouraging reading through a variety of resources for kids and parents.

To learn more about the Great American Read, to vote and join the conversation, visit