The Good Thunder Reading Series began in 1982 as Minnesota State University, Mankato’s contribution to a set of informal exchanges between faculty writers at several state universities in Minnesota. Kathy Callaway served as Good Thunder’s first director until 1984 and was followed by Wayne Ude.

In 1986, Richard Robbins became director. He built the program into one of such excellence that the Minnesota Humanities Commission named it “the premier small-town reading series in the country.” Visiting writers included George Saunders, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, Edwidge Danticat, Marlon James, Nikky Finney, Philip Levine, Robert Hass, Susan Orlean, Steve Almond, Li-Young Lee, Terrance Hayes, Charles Baxter, Julianna Baggott, Jesmyn Ward, Elizabeth Alexander, and others.

In 2014, Diana Joseph became series director, and launched “Good Thunder Presents,” a community outreach program that provides creative writing workshops and literary events for area community groups.