Excited kids run to school to start their new school year with Junior Great Books

The Great Books Foundation began in July 1947 with a mission to promote lifelong education and civil discourse through the reading and discussion of outstanding literature. Today, we’ve extended that mission to people of all ages, and we facilitate the discussion of ideas expressed not only through literature, but in artwork and media of any form. We continue to innovate, amplifying ideas from diverse sources, as we create reading and discussion programs for students, teachers, and adult learners.

Over the course of our 75-plus years, we have trained thousands and thousands of teachers in the Shared Inquiry method, enabling millions of K–12 students to participate in Junior Great Books. Thousands of adult book group participants have enjoyed reading and discussing our deeply thought-provoking, carefully constructed anthologies, and today we have 650 active Great Books groups and 16 regional councils in North America and worldwide. We believe that literacy and critical thinking help form reflective, knowledgeable citizens equipped to participate constructively in a democratic society.

As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we would like to thank you—teachers, students, adult book group participants, and all who support our movement and mission—by offering special events, free resources, new anthologies, and special discounts. So check back frequently to see what we have added!

With deep appreciation,
Valentina Texera Parissi
President and CEO, The Great Books Foundation

Photo by Sandra Abbo

Valentina Texera-Parissi

President & CEO

Valentina Texera-Parissi has committed her career to promoting literacy, developing professional education for teachers, and fostering lifelong learning. As president and chief executive officer of the Great Books Foundation, Valentina leads the Foundation’s efforts to expand and strengthen inquiry-based learning, advocacy, and leadership. Building upon the Foundation’s 75-year history of helping people of all ages think critically, listen closely, and consider contrasting ideas with civility, Valentina believes that an inquiry-based approach is essential not only for learning but also for leadership.

Excited kids run to school to start their new school year with Junior Great Books

The Great Books Foundation began in July 1947 with a mission to promote lifelong education and civil discourse through the reading and discussion of outstanding literature. Today, we’ve extended that mission to people of all ages, and we facilitate the discussion of ideas expressed not only through literature, but in artwork and media of any form. We continue to innovate, amplifying ideas from diverse sources, as we create reading and discussion programs for students, teachers, and adult learners.

Over the course of our 75-plus years, we have trained thousands and thousands of teachers in the Shared Inquiry method, enabling millions of K–12 students to participate in Junior Great Books. Thousands of adult book group participants have enjoyed reading and discussing our deeply thought-provoking, carefully constructed anthologies, and today we have 650 active Great Books groups and 16 regional councils in North America and worldwide. We believe that literacy and critical thinking help form reflective, knowledgeable citizens equipped to participate constructively in a democratic society.

As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, we would like to thank you—teachers, students, adult book group participants, and all who support our movement and mission—by offering special events, free resources, new anthologies, and special discounts. So check back frequently to see what we have added!

With deep appreciation,
Valentina Texera Parissi
President and CEO, The Great Books Foundation

Photo by Sandra Abbo

Valentina Parissi

President & CEO

Valentina Texera-Parissi has committed her career to promoting literacy, developing professional education for teachers, and fostering lifelong learning. As president and chief executive officer of the Great Books Foundation, Valentina leads the Foundation’s efforts to expand and strengthen inquiry-based learning, advocacy, and leadership. Building upon the Foundation’s 75-year history of helping people of all ages think critically, listen closely, and consider contrasting ideas with civility, Valentina believes that an inquiry-based approach is essential not only for learning but also for leadership.

75th Anniversary Discussion Events

Join us for upcoming discussion events!

Cecil Castellucci

75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION SERIES

“We Have Always Lived on Mars,” by Cecil Castellucci

Tuesday, November 14, 2023, 6:00–7:00 p.m. CDT

In this piece of speculative fiction, the young narrator Nina begins to question what knowing means when you only know one place and a single way of being. Even if that place happens to be Mars! Join fellow literature lovers for a free online discussion of this fascinating work. The discussion will be led by an expert Great Books facilitator who will ask participants probing questions to get to the heart of the story. This discussion is open to adult book group participants and educators of students of all ages.

REGISTER NOW

75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION SERIES

“We Have Always Lived on Mars,” by Cecil Castellucci

Tuesday, November 14, 2023, 6:00–7:00 p.m. CDT

In this piece of speculative fiction, the young narrator Nina begins to question what knowing means when you only know one place and a single way of being. Even if that place happens to be Mars! Join fellow literature lovers for a free online discussion of this fascinating work. The discussion will be led by an expert Great Books facilitator who will ask participants probing questions to get to the heart of the story. This discussion is open to adult book group participants and educators of students of all ages.

REGISTER NOW

Wislawa Szymborska

75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION SERIES– Complete

“Utopia,” by Wislawa Szymborska

Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 6:00–7:00 p.m. CDT

Why does the island of Utopia remain uninhabited, despite “all its charms”? Join us for a discussion of Wislawa Szymborska’s compelling poem, “Utopia,” to discuss this question and many others with fellow literature enthusiasts. “Utopia” is published in our anthology Imperfect Ideal: Utopian and Dystopian Visions, which you can buy in our online store for 75% off the cover price of $24.95. Just use the code GB75 when you check out, and get ready to savor and discuss 23 extremely thought-provoking works!

75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION SERIES– Complete

“Utopia,” by Wislawa Szymborska

Tuesday, October 10, 2023, 6:00–7:00 p.m. CDT

Why does the island of Utopia remain uninhabited, despite “all its charms”? Join us for a discussion of Wislawa Szymborska’s compelling poem, “Utopia,” to discuss this question and many others with fellow literature enthusiasts. “Utopia” is published in our anthology Imperfect Ideal: Utopian and Dystopian Visions, which you can buy in our online store for 75% off the cover price of $24.95. Just use the code GB75 when you check out, and get ready to savor and discuss 23 extremely thought-provoking works!

Sandra Tsing Loh

75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION SERIES– Complete

“My Father’s Chinese Wives”

June 27, 2023, 4:00–5:00 p.m. central time

Join us for a FREE online discussion of Sandra Tsing Loh’s “My Father’s Chinese Wives,” a selection from our anthology Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community. Delve into the work of this fascinating artist, who tells the story of a young Jenna Chow, whose life is turned upside down when her eccentric father suddenly decides to get a mail-order bride from China. For this discussion, the group will listen to a recording of Loh reading the story for Ira Glass’s National Public Radio program This American Life. You can access it here.

75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION SERIES– Complete

“My Father’s Chinese Wives”

June 27, 2023, 4:00–5:00 p.m. central time

Join us for a FREE online discussion of Sandra Tsing Loh’s “My Father’s Chinese Wives,” a selection from our anthology Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community. Delve into the work of this fascinating artist, who tells the story of a young Jenna Chow, whose life is turned upside down when her eccentric father suddenly decides to get a mail-order bride from China. For this discussion, the group will listen to a recording of Loh reading the story for Ira Glass’s National Public Radio program This American Life. You can access it here.

Great Books Foundation Celebrating 75 Years

75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION SERIES
Complete

The Role of Art in a Troubled World

Join us for an eight-week online discussion series beginning March 9, 2023, centered on selections from our 75th Anniversary two-volume set. We will have five two-hour live online discussions, hosted by seasoned Great Books discussion leaders, and three one-week asynchronous discussions of a film, painting, and musical performance. The cost is only $200 for the discussions and the two-volume book set.

75th ANNIVERSARY DISCUSSION SERIES – Complete

The Role of Art in a Troubled World

Join us for an eight-week online discussion series beginning March 9, 2023, centered on selections from our 75th Anniversary two-volume set. We will have five two-hour live online discussions, hosted by seasoned Great Books discussion leaders, and three one-week asynchronous discussions of a film, painting, and musical performance. The cost is only $200 for the discussions and the two-volume book set.

On Friendship

FREE SHARED INQUIRY DISCUSSION
Complete

“On Friendship” by Kahlil Gibran

April 20 • 3:00–4:00 p.m. central time
Join us for a FREE online discussion of Kahlil Gibran’s poem “On Friendship” and experience Shared Inquiry just the way students do! The discussion leaders are expert Great Books Foundation trainers who have a wealth of experience facilitating collaborative exchanges among people of all ages. The group will explore themes of friendship and community during the hour of discussion.

FREE SHARED INQUIRY DISCUSSION – Complete

“On Friendship” by Kahlil Gibran

April 20 • 3:00–4:00 p.m. central time
Join us for a FREE online discussion of Kahlil Gibran’s poem “On Friendship” and experience Shared Inquiry just the way students do! The discussion leaders are expert Great Books Foundation trainers who have a wealth of experience facilitating collaborative exchanges among people of all ages. The group will explore themes of friendship and community during the hour of discussion.

FREE SHARED INQUIRY DISCUSSION
Complete

“Sonnet #2” by William Shakespeare

April 24 • 3:00–4:00 p.m. central time
Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday (and continue your celebration of Poetry Month) by joining fellow poetry lovers in a FREE online Shared Inquiry discussion of Shakespeare’s Sonnet #2! Your expert discussion facilitator will ask thought-provoking questions to fuel a lively exchange. For example: Why does the sonnet juxtapose age with beauty? You will be sure to gain new perspectives on Shakespeare’s timeless work, and the group will welcome your interpretations as well.

FREE SHARED INQUIRY DISCUSSION – Complete

“Sonnet #2” by William Shakespeare

April 24 • 3:00–4:00 p.m. central time
Celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday (and continue your celebration of Poetry Month) by joining fellow poetry lovers in a FREE online Shared Inquiry discussion of Shakespeare’s Sonnet #2! Your expert discussion facilitator will ask thought-provoking questions to fuel a lively exchange. For example: Why does the sonnet juxtapose age with beauty? You will be sure to gain new perspectives on Shakespeare’s timeless work, and the group will welcome your interpretations as well.

75th Anniversary Shared Inquiry Learning Kits

As part of the Foundation’s 75th anniversary celebrations, we have developed two new kits containing lesson plans for two wonderful readings:

  • “Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents” by A. A. Milne (primary and early elementary grades)
  • “On Friendship” by Kahlil Gibran (middle grades and above)

Each lesson plan includes the full text.

Both readings explore the themes of friendship and community, which aligns with the Great Books mission of nurturing friendships and building community through sharing and discussing texts, artworks, and ideas of all kinds. And both lesson plans contain the full suite of interpretive activities found in all Junior Great Books units, including:

  • Prereading/Text Opener
  • First Reading with Sharing Questions
  • Second Reading activities appropriate to grade level
  • Shared Inquiry discussion questions and instructions
  • Extension activities, such as writing or drawing

As an added bonus, we’ve included Making Connections activities in both lesson plans, so you can:

  • Connect to Junior Great Books texts you may be working with
  • Explore additional readings and artworks related to the main text

For “Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents,” we have developed questions and activities around Shel Silverstein’s poem “Put Something In.” For “On Friendship,” you will find Making Connections activities around the “Friendship Quilt” made for Ella Maria Deacon and on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Download your free kit today, and watch this space for additional kits as we continue to celebrate our 75th year!

NEW 75th Anniversary Series

We created a new two-volume series for you to celebrate 75 years of great conversations. This 75th anniversary anthology is a working set of provocative selections from notable works of literature and thought intended for careful reading, reflection, discussion, and the mutual, unplanned insights that arise from Shared Inquiry. It is a celebration of the Great Books ideals; having reasoned discussions in which all listen and contribute; and achieving the enrichment of lifelong learning.

Buy each volume for only $40 or the two-volume set for only $75! We invite you to join us for our upcoming discussion series, The Role of Art in a Troubled World, in which we will discuss selections from both of these volumes, as well as nontextual objects of art. Learn more and register for the series!

Great Books 75th Book Set

Learn About the History of the Great Books Foundation

The Great Books Foundation began in 1947 with a mission to promote lifelong education through the reading and discussion of outstanding literature. Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins were the key figures in our initial establishment and early growth.

Learn more about the important dates in the Foundation’s history, from our founding in 1947 right up until the present day!

Robert Maynard Hutchins and Mortimer J. Adler

Save 75% on Great Books Anthologies for Adults!*

We want to make it easy for you to discuss Great Books that you haven’t yet covered in your book group, or to have for your collection or just for your reading pleasure! ALL of our anthologies for adults are 75% off during our 75th Anniversary celebration year. See them here!

Just use special offer code GB75 when you check out in our online store!

*Note: This offer does not apply to our two new 75th Anniversary anthologies, Classic Readings for Discussion.

Great Books Foundation Celebrating 75 Years

Help Us Continue the Great Conversation for 75 More Years and Beyond!

Earlier this year we began celebrating the Great Books Foundation’s 75th anniversary. The Foundation was established in 1947 with a mission to promote lifelong education through the reading and discussion of outstanding literature. Today, we’ve extended that mission to people of all ages, and we promote the discussion of ideas expressed not only through literature, but in artwork and media of any form.

Help us continue a great tradition with learners of all ages. Please consider donating to the Great Books Foundation today!