Italy Reads

Italy Reads Program

Italy Reads
There's more to JCU's Italy Reads Program than just one good book.




The history of Italy Reads

Italy Reads is a community-based English language reading and cultural exchange program that collaborates with 200 Italian high school teachers from over 60 high schools across Italy from Naples and Rome to Milan. Each year, one classic work of American literature is selected to read together. 

Italy Reads began in 2009 as a National Endowment for the Arts "Big Read Rome" and the great success and demand for this program has now brought us to its 10th year as Italy Reads. The program benefits from the continued support from the United States Embassy to Italy, the English Theatre of Rome and John Cabot University.

Italy Reads 2020-2021: Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring'

Rachel Louise Carson (1907–1964), American biologist and author is recognized as the founder of environmentalism. Her book Silent Spring was published in 1962. It is considered a milestone in the history of ecological awareness. With Silent Spring she awakened public consciousness and established the global environmentalist tradition.

The course will introduce background information on Rachel Carson and the social and literary context in which she wrote. Considerable discussion will be dedicated to the importance of the relationship between literature, writing and social change, and to examining how literature can lead to a renewed connection with nature. This connection can be intended, especially at this moment of environmental crises, not as an abstract identity to protect ideologically, but a place where it is possible to explore one's own identity.

Professional Development Course

21 high school teachers from 17 high schools in Rome, Civitavecchia and Naples are awarded scholarships to attend the Italy Reads Professional Development Course for High School Teachers. See the list of participants.

This course, an annual appointment with teachers, is offered each Spring term in preparation for the subsequent academic year. Participants receive a Certificate of Completion for 30 hours of Professional Development.

This course is offered by JCU free of charge. It will be held on Tuesdays, 4:30-6:30 pm, 21 January - 5 May 2020. Qualified applicants are teachers of English Language and Culture in a high school in Italy who will include their students in the Italy Reads Program 2020-2021.

Ongoing activities for Italy Reads 2019-2020

Teachers and their students can still join! In 2019-2020, we welcome teachers from high schools in Italy, JCU student volunteers, and Italian high school students to join in our read of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The poem is available free of charge at The Whitman Archives. The edition JCU has selected for participating teachers is Walt Whitman, Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, Ed., Justin Kaplan, The Library of America, ISBN 9780940450028. Teachers who register to participate receive a free copy of this edition. Based on availability, school libraries will also receive a free copy of this edition.

Alternanza Scuola Lavoro (ASL) / Percorsi per le Competenze Trasversali e per l'Orientamento (PCTO) for high school students

Activities with Italy Reads can now be undertaken in accordance with ASL/PCTO (Dlg.No.107,13.07.2015). For details, contact [email protected]

Italy Reads Chart









N.B.: The number of teachers includes a school Principal for each school. Each participating teacher involves an average of 25 students in the Italy Reads program. Some teachers do not participate each and every year.

More Information

It's easy to be a JCU student volunteer. Please see our Calendar of Events for a complete list of Italy Reads activities.

To register as an official Italy Reads 2019-20 participant, or to receive more information about Italy Reads, please e-mail us at [email protected]

Participating teachers, students, libraries and book group leaders can attend the Keynote Address for the general public and a Master Class by the Keynote Speaker, attend a production by The English Theatre of Rome, participate in Student Exchanges, and compete in a Student Video Contest. Participating teachers can also attend a day-long Italy Reads training workshop in September.

Keynote Address - Participating teachers and their students are invited to the Italy Reads Keynote Address delivered by Ed Folsom, Roy J. Carver Professor of English, Editor, Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, Co-Director, The Walt Whitman Archive (, Editor, Whitman Series, University of Iowa Press. See the Calendar of Events for details and to register. 

Master Class for High School Teachers and Book Group Leaders - by Walt Whitman scholar Ed Folsom. See the Calendar of Events for details. 

Play Performances - Participating teachers and their students will receive discounted tickets to The English Theatre of Rome's production of the stage adaptation of Leaves of Grass. See the Calendar of Events for details. 

Student Video Contest - Students participating in Italy Reads can enter a video contest to compete for significant cash prizes. See Student Video Contest for details.

Student Exchanges - JCU students will be available to visit schools to lead discussions of the poet and his work in a student exchange program.  Students of participating Italy Reads teachers will also be invited to participate in discussions of the life and work of Whitman at the JCU campus. Contact Italy Reads at [email protected] for details. 

Teacher Training - Participating teachers can take part in a day-long workshop about the author and his work and the use of the teaching materials gathered by Italy Reads and produced by Italy Reads 2019 Scholars. Contact Italy Reads at [email protected] for details.

Teaching Materials - Through the Italy Reads website and the JCU Frohring Library, teachers participating in Italy Reads have access to a wealth of supplemental electronic materials related to the author and his work. See Resources for details.

Books for Libraries - Participating libraries can receive a limited number of free copies of Walt Whitman, Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, Ed., Justin Kaplan, The Library of America,ISBN 9780940450028. Contact Italy Reads at [email protected]

Astronaut Paolo Nespoli reads Emily Dickinson in the outer space

 Learn what Italy reads is about

With the support of:

English Theatre of Rome US Embassy