NEA Big Read

NEA Big Read

An initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, the NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of contemporary titles that reflect many different voices and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery. The main feature of the initiative is a grants program, managed by Arts Midwest, which annually supports approximately 75 dynamic community reading programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read selection.

The titles in the NEA Big Read library vary in genre, theme, settings, and points of view: from poems about the loss of a father to a memoir about growing up in a refugee camp to a post-apocalyptic novel about hanging on to our humanity after a flu pandemic. Wrote one NEA Big Read participant, echoing the sentiments of many other participants around the country, “the book taught us how to talk to and trust one another so that we could ultimately approach issues that were difficult and immediate.”

Since 2006, the National Endowment for the Arts has funded more than 1,300 NEA Big Read community programs, providing more than $18 million in grants to organizations in every district in the country. In turn, these organizations have leveraged more than $42 million in local funding to support their NEA Big Read programs. More than 4.8 million Americans have attended an NEA Big Read event, approximately 79,000 volunteers have participated at the local level, and 37,000 community organizations have partnered to make NEA Big Read activities possible.

To learn more about the books or to apply for an NEA Big Read grant, go to

NEA Big Read Audio

Headshot of a woman.
Novelist and 2016 Big Read author