Closer Readings Commentary

Frankenreads: A Global Project to Read “Frankenstein” Aloud on Halloween Day, 2018

Imagine: students seated in a circle, books in hand, while one intones the famous passage in which Victor Frankenstein meets his creation:

I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed; when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretched ”the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks.

How many students would enjoy acting this out? How many would enjoy discussing issues of whether a monstrous appearance indicates a monstrous heart?

Next year, 2018, marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). The Keats-Shelley Association of America, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is encouraging teachers, artists, authors, and actors around the world to celebrate this remarkably influential work by holding live group readings and other events on or before Halloween Day, Wednesday, October 31st, 2018. Over 50 schools, colleges, universities, and libraries from Australia to Bulgaria to Switzerland to the United States have already agreed to participate, planning lessons and performances and panels and exhibits as well as public readings from the novel.

This widespread interest in celebrating the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein is unsurprising, given the novel’s enduring popularity: according to the Open Syllabus Project, Frankenstein is the fifth most-taught work at the college level in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and the most-taught novel, surpassing even Heart of Darkness and The Great Gatsby. The novel has been translated into many languages, and has inspired not only the well-known movies, but also plays, graphic novels, and video games aplenty. And Frankenreads isn’t the only NEH-funded initiative centered on Frankenstein: the One State, One Story program at Indiana Humanities is encouraging the whole state of Indiana to explore Mary Shelley’s monumental novel, including by supporting Community Reads just like those that Frankenreads is supporting worldwide.

Interested in participating? The Frankenreads website at provides a list of lesson plans and other resources for teachers, including EDSITEment’s own Tales of the Supernatural unit for grades 9-12. You can also sign up to add an event, or just write for more information. You and your students can also follow the #frankenreads hashtag or the @frankenreads accounts on Twitter and Instagram, or visit our Facebook page at

*Amanda French is the Community Manager for the Frankenreads project.

Related NEH resources