Sunday, October 4 – Saturday, November 7

Reading a good book can put the rest of the world on pause – allowing us to explore new realms, to discover new ideas, and to connect with our community in a new way. That is the hope of the annual NEA Big Read. In the face of the stresses of 2020, the Big Read literature opens a window for reflection, inspiration, peace, and growth.

The primary book for 2020’s NEA Big Read is Hope Jahren’s memoir Lab Girl. It is a compelling story of one girl’s journey from hanging out in her father’s chemistry lab to establishing her own academic research facility. Chapters alternate between Jahren’s story and delightful tales of seeds, leaves, trees, or some other segment of the natural world.

For younger readers, the 2020 NEA Big Read offers companion literature that inspires appreciation for our natural world and for scientific observations.

View more information and resources by clicking on the book images below

Grades 9 – Adult

Grades 4 – 8

Grades K – 3


Big Read Events & Programs

There are some amazing events and programs lined up to celebrate and further dive into this year’s NEA Big Read.

View Calendar of Events
View Brochure with Links

Cool Stuff to Do Anytime!

Hikes, journaling, a Family Reading Challenge and more…

View the Big Read Anytime Fun Activities
View Recorded Big Read Programs

Are you an Educator?

Every year, hundreds of students across the Mid-Hudson region are exposed to great literature through this program, thanks to their enthusiastic, gifted teachers! The Library held several Professional Development sessions and has made them available to all to use. 

View Teacher’s Resources and Professional Development Sessions
Image of people sitting and discussing books

Book Club Contest

Your book discussion group is invited to join the NEA Big Read! Register your group online to read Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. Then send us a creative report about your discussion and you could win a gift basket of goodies for your Book Club.

Winners will be announced at the Big Read Closing Celebration on Saturday, November 7, 2020.

For more information email Jewel Ratzlaff at

Register Your Book Club Here

View our past NEA Big Reads here!

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

El proyecto NEA Big Read es una iniciativa del National Endowment for the Arts (el Fondo Nacional para las Artes de Estados Unidos) en cooperación con Arts Midwest.