11 LitClubs IMG 8928"That was a powerful passage. Have you ever had that feeling?" Students in Beth and Karen’s Lit Club stopped to reflect on this question, posed during their discussion about Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse, engaging in a deep conversation about the motivation and emotions behind the main character’s actions. It is these evocative discussions — and the participation of community members who help lead them — that set Nueva’s Lit Club program apart from traditional literature classes. It’s a constructivist pedagogy where students create meaning for themselves through the experience of reading, inquiring, and examining stories.

For the past 35 years, Lit Clubs at Nueva have been a unique way for students, parents, and faculty facilitators to connect and build a love of literature. Back when it was founded in 1982, there were just six children and one adult in a classroom discussing works of fiction. Now, more than 400 students in grades 2–8 participate in a Lit Club on a weekly basis.

“Lit Club demonstrates Nueva’s approach to education as students discover meaning through literature and language,” said librarian Marilyn Kimura. “They observe the world through stories, and through listening and discussing them with their peers each week.”

A regular part of the annual curriculum for lower and middle school students, the goal of Lit Club is to encourage critical thinking and literary analysis through dialogue and inquiry, thus developing lifelong readers who love literature and enjoy sharing that pleasure over time. All members of a Lit Club, adults and students, must think deeply and creatively in order to interpret, question, and share personal responses that relate to the book they are reading. Delving deeper and going far beyond reading a story and writing a classic book report, Lit Clubs challenge students to explore stories in a cooperative environment with their teachers, facilitators, and peers.

“One of the reasons Lit Club is cool i10 LitClubs Gr5 IMG 8842s that it pushes you to love reading more,” said fifth-grader Jasper F. “It introduces you to books you might not have chosen otherwise, and I love the conversations we have.”

Taking a “stage, not age” approach, students from different grades are often commingled to allow for more diversity in experience and discussions. “We all bring to a discussion who we are, and look at things differently through the lens of our own experience,” said Marilyn. “Text on a page does not come alive until you read it.”

Nueva parents and adults in the community can volunteer as Lit Club facilitators and spend roughly two hours a week at the school with students, and two hours at home preparing the lesson. This parental involvement helps foster positive attitudes toward learning among students and grows their interest and love of literature for life. There is even an Adult Lit Club formed by the NPA to provide a similar experience for parents.

“It is really interesting to hear other people's questions and to have conversations about the characters and their motivations and emotions,” said fifth grader Erika M. “When we read Full Cicada Moon, people were so excited and actively participating, trying to solve the mystery of who stole the moon. It was really fun to have that conversation with other students.”

Marilyn agreed, “In my mind there’s nothing better than kids and books. It’s a delicious thing to see them devour these stories so voraciously.”

Any member of the community who is interested in leading or joining a Lit Club can contact Marilyn, or stop by the Hillsborough Library to volunteer.


 By Louise Schultze, Editor/Writer

November 15, 2017



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