How it works

New Books, New Readers is meant for adults of every age: low literacy levels, those involved in GED preparation, English language learners, and more. The program can be sponsored by any organization encouraging the idea that books can play an important role in every life, helping us to understand ourselves in relation to our world and each other. We have partnered with Adult Basic Education, Literacy Volunteers, Even Start, Head Start, parenting programs, correctional education programs, and public libraries.

How does New Books, New Readers work?

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 session 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, and
  • 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, and
  • Send teachers, tutors, or staff members to be part of each discussion.

Especially for English Language Learners

We modified the New Books, New Readers model to accommodate the needs of Portland Adult Education teachers and their students, and we are happy to offer this version to organizations with large ELL classes–just let us know if you are interested!

Instead of a series, the Adult Ed teacher chooses a single book from the New Books, New Readers list. MHC orders the book, has it delivered to Adult Ed for use in their class (which can often have as many as 25-30 students), and connects the teacher with a scholar/facilitator, who will join the class at the end of their term for a facilitated discussion of the book. Throughout the term, the teacher uses the book as a source for vocabulary, grammar, and idioms, and may even make it a major feature in the curriculum.

Funded By:

NEH logo

MHC’s Winter Weekend

Helen & George Ladd Charitable Corporation

Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust

With support from individual donors around the state of Maine