Common Reading

Man reading a book

Within the pages of the Common Reading book you will find ideas, inspiration and community with your fellow honors students. 

Dear America Book Cover

The W.A. Franke Honors College Common Reading Program is designed to facilitate learning among all honors students around a common experience. The program is designed to encourage community building, complement curriculum, and offer opportunities for self-reflection, critical thinking, and practical application of knowledge across disciplines. A unique component of the program is the intentional illumination of issues of social justice.

The 2022-2023 selection is a book that we believe will resonate with the wide range of students in the Franke Honors College.

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas 

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen is an urgent, provocative, and deeply personal account from Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who happens to be the most well-known undocumented immigrant in the United States. Born in the Philippines and brought to the U.S. illegally as a 12-year-old, Vargas hid in plain-sight for years, and went on to write for some of the most prestigious news organizations in the country while lying about where he came from and how he got here. After publicly admitting his undocumented status – risking his career and personal safety – Vargas challenged the definition of what it means to be an American. Both a letter to and a window into Vargas’s American, Dear America is transformative argument about migration and citizenship, and an intimate, searing exploration on what it means when the country you call your home doesn’t consider you one of its own.

Students should plan to purchase and read the book. We encourage students to read it over the summer so you are prepared to start the academic year ready to engage in discussions and activities connected to the book. You will have opportunities to think about what the book means and how it might affect the way you interact with others and see the world.

Purchase the Book (ISBN-10: 0062851349; ISBN-13: 978-0062851345)


Barnes & Noble

Additional Resources

Author Interview


TEDTalk: Actions are illegal, never people

Define American

Previous Common Reading selections have included:

2021 – Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation edited by John Freeman

2020 – The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú

2019 – What the Eyes Don’t See by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

2018 – On Trails by Robert Moor

2017 – Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

2016 – Citizen by Claudia Rankine

2015 – In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

2014 – The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

2013 – Planetwalker by Francis Walker

2012 – Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle

2011 – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2010 – Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

2009 – White Gloves by John Kotre

2008 – Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

2007 – Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi