Can my young children join a classical literature club? Years back, I, like you, wondered the same thing. Jim wanted me to start a classical literature club for our younger boys like the one we had for our high school children. I was apprehensive about the idea. I understood how to talk about real life issues with kids who were approaching adulthood. I was puzzled about how to translate what we did with the teens into a club for kids 7 and up.
Duplicating the themed meal was a snap. We started out doing little projects that made the book fun to read and connected their thoughts to the story on a deeper level. I designed the book discussion so that the answers to my questions were geared more toward concrete responses, but still not questions that lend themselves to a yes or no answer. I did this, as you probably already know, because kids at this age are information gatherers and parrots. Their brains haven’t developed to the analytical stage, yet. I didn’t want to frustrate them.
In addition to these questions, I decided to follow up their answers by making comments that took them one step further. I would make analogies and mention possibilities that were more abstract. My hope was that by asking concrete questions, they would feel confident in their discussion abilities. By adding abstract ideas that went beyond that, I hoped it would be a useful stepping stone to the the next stage of development.
Starting a literature club for littles turned out to be an awesome experience. If you listen closely to what littles have to say, you will be thrilled with their insight. I was always amazed. These kids impressed me every single meeting with the projects they created and their conversational skills. It was truly exciting to see them mature.
4 benefits for the younger child who reads classical literature in a club setting
- Classic books are really good stories. I call these 7-layer stories. The classics often have undertones that aren’t quickly seen on the surface. The child reading these books will be given interesting topics to discuss.
- Reading the classics early prepares him for higher-level reading and thinking. When he is older and reads the same classic story as an abridged or unabridged version, he will get more out of it, since the basic story line is already in his subconscious.
- Presenting projects is a public speaking exercise. If a child begins this early, it becomes part of life to him. At first, some littles are nervous about it, and some aren’t. For those that are, I ease them into the process. Little Grace started coming to LITClub when she was in diapers. Her older sister was in the high school group. When Grace turned 7, she was ready to start reading with us. It came time for her to present her first project, and she was scared. Instead of insisting that she do it, I asked her if she would stand beside me and let me present her project. This was just enough pressure removed for her to say yes. It wasn’t long until Grace was standing confidently before the group explaining her own project.
- He gains a versatile reading appetite. The young classical reader discovers at an early age that he can read books that aren’t on the current best seller list and still be entertained. Reading old books becomes part of his reading repertoire.
Check out these pictures to see just how much fun littles have in a LITClub experience.
Why don’t you try it out? My free ebook Transforming the Hunger Games into an Experience includes all the parts you need to enjoy this book in a lit club setting. If your child is too young for The Hunger Games, you can still download the book to find out how we make reading classical literature so much fun for parents and kids of all ages. You can adapt the forms and meal plan to suit the book you want to read with your younger children. Here is a list of books the younger children in my group have enjoyed, along with a fun project that they prepared and presented to us.
The Ransom of Red Chief (re-tellings of this story are Dennis the Menace and Disney’s Tale Spin. I suggest that the kids read the short story and then watch one of these shows.) Project: Rewrite this classic tale.
Les Miserables from the Step into Reading series. Project: Make a diorama of a scene from the book. Try to include a metaphor.
The Jungle Book Project: Food Art- Make a jungle by creating animals and settings out of food.
If you are one of the parents who has been asking me, “Can I create a LITClub for my littles?” then please check out my book for more details. The LITClub, Transforming Reading into an Experience.
How do you bring books to life?