Good Trouble Book Club

Forming Your Local Chapter

In honor of the late Congressman John Lewis and the importance of engaging in good trouble, COE is launching the Good Trouble Book Club: Engaging Youth in a National Conversation about the Future of America. Download the informational brochure here Document is available for download (.pdf).

COE invites Upward Bound, Talent Search, Student Support Services, the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, and other interested college access programs to form local Good Trouble Book Club chapters to engage TRIO students in discussions about the implications of the work of leaders like John Lewis for their own lives and for the future of the nation.

A single program or a group of programs collaborating in their local area can form a chapter. Participating book club chapters will:

  • Have all or a selected group of students read either John Lewis’ Across that Bridge: A Vision for Change and the Future of America (2017) or The March Trilogy (2013) during the summer of 2021;
  • Designate a staff person to organize and determine the structure and duration of your Good Trouble Book Club;
  • Engage locally prominent individuals to facilitate discussions of one chapter in the book (Suggestions for local facilitators include institution president/chancellor, faculty member, mayor, school superintendent, city council member, state senator or representative, state legislator, business leader); and
  • Design, implement, and document a culminating civic engagement project.


All interested programs must register to receive the implementation guide, curriculum ideas, and dates of events related to the Good Trouble Book Club by May 3. To register for the Book Club, complete the form here.

For more information, please contact Cherryl Arnold at ( or Deborah Northcross at (

About the Civic Engagement Project

This component of the program is optional. The theme is “Exploring Congressman John Lewis’ principles of “good trouble” as a response to today’s social injustice.” Students will not be expected to complete their projects by September; however, the design of the project should be complete.

COE will hold a competition among these projects. A panel of community engagement experts will judge electronic poster presentations. Students from the winning Book Clubs will be invited to present virtually or on-site at the Council’s annual conference in Atlanta in September.

Additional Resources

COE will organize talks by 3-4 nationally prominent individuals on themes from both books that the book club chapters will be able to attend virtually and engage in discussions with the speakers. The talks will be held in June and July and will be announced as they are scheduled. COE will also provide resources and support to participating Book Clubs, including:

  • How to organize a Book Club webinar
  • Book Club Implementation Guide
  • Curriculum ideas and discussion questions for both books

Book Club requirements

Participating programs must be able to:

  • Allow a minimum of 10 students in the book club;
  • Convene a minimum of 8 meetings;
  • Participate in the nationally staged talks presented by COE;
  • Check in with COE as requested; and
  • Pay for the books, the local facilitator and travel to Atlanta, if chosen for the competition.

About the Books

In ACROSS THAT BRIDGE: A VISION FOR CHANGE AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA, Congressman John Lewis draws from his experience as a prominent leader of the Civil Rights Movement to offer timeless guidance to anyone seeking to live virtuously and transform the world. His wisdom, poignant recollections, and powerful principles and ideas will inspire a new generation to usher in a freer, more peaceful society for anyone interested in challenging injustices and inspiring real change. Across That Bridge (2017) is an account on the qualities that protestors need to embody to bring about lasting change. Activists in the U.S. and all over the world look to the American civil rights movement of the 1960s for inspiration on how to challenge injustice. Here, Lewis uses personal recollections — from freedom rides to bus boycotts to the March on Washington — to impart lessons about nonviolent protest to the next generation of dreamers. Although it has been decades since the historic social upheavals of the 1960s, Americans continue to look to the Civil Rights Movement as the apotheosis of political expression. With an engaged electorate once again confronting questions of social inequality, there's no better time to revisit the lessons of the '60s and no better leader to learn from than Congressman John Lewis. The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Lewis have never been more relevant. Now, more than ever, this nation needs a strong and moral voice to guide an engaged population through visionary change.

Purchase Across That Bridge on Amazon here.

THE MARCH TRILOGY is an autobiographical black and white graphic novel trilogy about the Civil rights movement, told through the perspective of civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman John Lewis. The series is written by Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated and lettered by Nate Powell. For Grades 6-12; extensible to higher education and correlated to state and national standards. It is rare for an engaging work of graphic history to be told from the perspective of a central figure in that history itself — yet that is precisely the case with John Lewis’s personal account of the U.S. civil rights movement. As such, the autobiographical trilogy March provides a unique opportunity for exploring an eyewitness report of important events while simultaneously studying the memoir form: it represents “literacy across the disciplines” of the most authentic sort. In addition, its main idea — how to overcome violence and injustice through nonviolence — remains vitally resonant today. ADVISORY ON LANGUAGE: Please note that, in its accurate depiction of racism in the 1950s and 1960s, March contains several instances of racist language and other potentially offensive epithets. As with any text used in schools that may contain sensitivities, Top Shelf urges you to preview the text carefully and as needed, to alert parents and guardians in advance as to the type of language as well as the authentic learning objectives that it supports.

Purchase the March Trilogy on Amazon here.