Meet the LitWorld Interns: Part II

  Illustration by Sara Caplan

Illustration by Sara Caplan

Last month, our Research & Development interns began their summer at the LitWorld offices in NYC. Read more about their strengths, their stories, and their favorite books!


What is a book that you’ll never get tired of reading?

Sara: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur is a collection of poems about losing, loving, and healing. It is beautifully written and has equally beautiful, yet simple illustrations coupled with many of the pieces. Each poem captures universal feelings ingrained in the human experience. Milk and Honey provides eloquent comfort. It is good affirmation that I am in fact, despite appearances, not completely crazy. It is also the perfect book for reading while sitting on an embroidered pillow by the window gazing out into the pouring rain. 
Lily: My choice would be Les Misèrables by Victor Hugo (it helps that it’s pretty hefty). Its prose is staggeringly poetic and melodic, and its stories intricately and inextricably woven to bring to life a tragic, yet vibrant and passionate revolution. What makes every moment reading this novel (and other exceptional pieces of literature) so wonderful are the subtleties — Hugo’s words are just enough to evoke familiar feelings I might not otherwise have thought were articulable.
Madeline: I never get tired of reading The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. The story book is about a young raccoon named Chester, his anxieties concerning his first day of school, and his mother’s approach to keeping him comfortable and excited for this new stage of life. I remember my mother used to read this book often to my sisters and I growing up, even past the age of us beginning school. We just loved the illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak. The art captures the love and kindness that radiates from the story. Whenever I’m down, this book always makes me feel like I’m home!
Tiranke: A book that I’ll never get tired of reading is For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntzoke Shange (you’ve probably seen the Tyler Perry movie, but the book is better). It is a book composed of choreopoems that focuses on the everyday lives of black women. Each women is represented by a color to show their universality. Although all the women deal with some form of abuse, neglect, tragedy, and/ or oppression, they tell their stories and remain strong. I love that this book is universally relatable; no matter what race, gender, or sexual orientation someone identifies as, they will find a woman to identify with. I can read this book forever and ever and ever and I will never get tired of it! 
If your life was a novel, what would it be called?

Sara: Once I Ate Two Jars of Pickles as an Afternoon Snack
Lily: The Secret of Solitude
Madeline: Train Traffic?: A young Texan’s journey taking on the Northeast, NYC, and life in general. 

Tiranke: Working Progress

LitCamp in the News!

  Elizabeth Owens-Schiele / Pioneer Press

Elizabeth Owens-Schiele / Pioneer Press

This excerpt was originally published in the Chicago Tribune on July 7, 2017. Read the full article.

The three-week "Lit Camp," designed by national literacy expert Pam Allyn, who co-authored the book, "Every Child is a Super Reader," lasted three hours each weekday earlier this summer at District 25.

Four teachers led 20 students first in campfire songs, then a read aloud and drama sketches that brought the text to life, as well as vocabulary and writing lessons, school officials said.

"This is a class that is designed for all reading levels, struggling readers to advanced readers," said District 25 Literacy Coordinator Sharon Nelles. "Our goal was to provide a class that would specifically target the summer reading slide and provide an experience that students would be enriched and involved in books. The special part of Lit Camp is it has that interactive summer-camp approach with singing and making it more of a camp-like experience."

.    .     .     .

Student Jack Lepold, 7, said he'd written six books in the last couple weeks because of the Lit Camp.

"I got the idea from Captain Underpants. He inspired me to make these comics," said Lepold, sharing his stories and illustrations outlined on notebook paper stapled together. "I liked all the books. Plus, I got to be in a second-grade class on the second floor and I found a penny in a locker."

    Read the full article in the Chicago Tribune.

    Meet the LitWorld Interns: Part I

     From left to right: Lily Kim, Tiranke Kande, Sara Caplan, and Madeline Bustos.

    From left to right: Lily Kim, Tiranke Kande, Sara Caplan, and Madeline Bustos.

    Which of the 7 Strengths do you want to focus on developing in yourself this summer?

    Sara: I would like to concentrate on developing my ability to demonstrate kindness. I believe that kindness is the primary foundation of building and maintaining trust. I hope that committed work on kindness will create an opportunity for trust and open doors to new relationships, through which I can absorb the stories and experiences of fellow interns, staff members, and of the children and families that LitWorld serves.This summer is the perfect time to engage with this strength as relationships and stories are at the core of each LitWorld program and the organization as a whole. 

    Lily: LitWorld’s work is powerful because its emphasis on story demonstrates the necessity of voice, particularly the child’s. Taking ownership of one’s voice, however, requires courage. Modern society obsessively, and perhaps frantically, preaches, “Be yourself,” but this adage typically requires a disclaimer. “Being oneself” has become restrained to being normal, or else extraordinary. To fall short in any way is to be socially, intellectually, physically, emotionally separated from common society, to be treated as “other.” To face this world and still hold true to oneself without guilt or shame is brave. I hope to embrace my differences, in whatever form they take, and take courage in owning them and hope to contribute those parts of myself to LitWorld.
    Madeline: This summer I would like to continue developing the LitWorld strength of belonging. Out of the seven strengths, belonging really strikes me the most because of its power to place an individual’s heart into a community’s ambitions. As part of a family of six, I feel like I have been privileged to feel and know what it means to be part of a team and community. However, I sometimes struggle to identify with people outside of my family and integrate myself and my story into the communities I encounter and value. Additionally, I sometimes forget to do everything I can to make sure others feel comfortable and valued in the communities they wish to join as well.

    I hope that this summer at LitWorld, I can not only improve my interactions surrounding “belonging” but contribute to building the importance of community in the LitWorld curriculum. LitWorld values the individual and communal stories and the ways in which they shape life and learning. Before the end of the summer, I would like to become part of that legacy.
    Tiranke: Of the 7 Strengths that LitWorld values, the one that I want to work on developing the most during the summer is courage. I am often hesitant to try new things and venture out on new opportunities in fear of the unknown and that I will not excel. Going away to school has been one of the most courageous things I have done thus far, and it has been amazing. I hope to continue to make decisions that do not have a definite outcome despite the fears that may be behind it. I am not sure how many opportunities have passed me that I didn't take advantage because I didn't have the courage to do so. This summer, I plan to be more courageous by participating in every opportunity that comes my way, even if it's the smallest because I will never know the outcome of it.

    Hailing from Brooklyn, Lily Kim is a rising senior at Amherst College. She is a Mathematics major but has a budding passion for sociology and history, as well as an undying love of literature. When the problem sets are completed and papers submitted, she can be found practicing calligraphy at her desk with various inks, a pointed pen, and an ever-growing pile of paper.
    Sara Caplan, a native New Yorker, is a rising sophomore at Bowdoin College and is double majoring in History and Education. She spends most of her free time in the community service center working on a variety of education-based projects or bothering the staff about babysitting their children. Sara devotes much time to sitting and soccer playing on the quad when the weather is nice and was possibly seen in the library once. 
    Madeline Bustos is a rising junior attending Amherst College, where she is double majoring in English and Religion. A native Texan from the Rio Grande Valley, Madeline is still experimenting with city-life and snow. She enjoys show tunes, painting, and time with family. While Madeline is building her background in the nonprofit and education sectors, some of her vocational aspirations from elementary school include an astronaut, a teacher, an artist, and a zookeeper. 
    Tiranke Kande is a rising sophomore at Ithaca College where she is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Counseling. Her family originates from Sierra Leone. She is originally from the Bronx in New York City and takes great pride in being African and a New Yorker. In her spare time, Tiranke can be found hanging out with family and friends. Although she hasn't decided what she wants to do with her life yet, she has a passion for learning and helping others. 

    Learn more about our interns in Part II of this series!

    Gearing Up for the Summer: Tips for Year-Round Readers

    This post was originally published as a guest post by LitWorld on Booksource Banter.

    As tradition goes, summer break is a time for exploring new places, making new friends and discovering new interests. It’s a type of social-emotional development that can, and should, go hand-in-hand with year-round learning.

    But for some kids, summer break and ten weeks away from school can put them at risk for summer learning loss. The “summer slide” is a well-documented phenomenon in which children lose significant ground on academic learning during the long break. The summer reading loss is responsible for approximately two thirds of the 9th grade achievement gap!

    Studies have found that summer reading initiatives have a profound impact, but keeping kids reading during the summer months can be a challenge, especially for families who can’t afford the rising cost of summer activities which average $856 per child.

    So, how can we help kids gear up for a summer that is equally enriching and enjoyable? Take these steps to prevent summer slide and help kids love reading year-round.

    3 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Summer Slide

    1. Tap into the joy.

    As parents and educators, you can create a joyful reading environment in your homes, summer schools and beyond. Positive reading experiences and affirmational learning environments can be absolutely transformational in a child’s reading life. Encourage their own reading journey and you may find their enthusiasm for summer reading has grown!

    2. Emphasize choice.

    Before the end of the school year, ask your kids about the types of texts that they love the most and emphasize this kind of reading during the summer. Even if their required list isn’t flexible, kids will read more enthusiastically when they feel confident about their identity as readers! Check out these home and classroom resources from Booksource to encourage reading choice this summer.

    3. Get resourceful.

    Districts all over the country are ramping up their summer reading programs to meet the needs of kids and families everywhere. Public libraries are also great resources for summer reading programs and of course great books! Start your research now and be sure not to miss any exciting events in your neighborhood.

    With planning and preparation, we can turn the summer slide into the “summer leap” for our kids, making this their best summer yet!

    A Life-Changing Week at the HerStory Summit

    GHS sisterhood

    The HerStory Sisterhood

    "We are leaving here with sisters from every part of the world, and that is the greatest strength of this summit."

    These closing words from the second annual Global HerStory Summit, co-created with our amazing partner Global G.L.O.W., sing the powerful story of this signature HerStory Campaign event and the work we do together in partnership with communities every day of the year.

    At the Summit, our girls and their mentors from LitClubs around the world came together in New York City during the UN Women's Commission on the Status of Women to learn and share experiences. They created their very own Community Action Plans to bring change to their communities through the power of story. Now, the girls have returned to their homes to put their ideas into action. Our HerStory Youth Ambassadors are creating positive, lasting, girl-driven change in the world. And it is the power of their own stories that fuels that change.

    Girl-Driven Change

      HerStory Leaders with Ravi Karkara of UN Women

    HerStory Leaders with Ravi Karkara of UN Women

    The Power of Story Connects to the Work of UN Women

    The Summit was held in conjunction with UN Women’s 61st Annual Commission on the Status of Women to ensure that action plans were aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Ravi Karkara, Senior Advisor for Strategic Partnerships at UN Women, joined us to share his commitment to gender equity and passion for advocacy on behalf of all girls.

    The Power of Story Fuels Community-Based Change

    Juany, the Director of Otra Cosa Network, our partner organization in Peru, reported that the HerStory Ambassadors had their first meeting with the Mayor of Huanchaco in Cerrito de la Virgen as the first step in their Community Action Plan. They are hard at work to make access to water a reality!

    The Power of Story Creates Safe Learning Spaces

    Winney and the group of Ambassadors from Kenya are working to create LitClub-Houses, safe, permanent space for girls to attend the LitClub program, study and store essential learning supplies like notebooks, pens, and even sanitary pads. In LitClub, Winney has learned, “Once a girl has knowledge, she will be able to fight for her own rights and prove others wrong. Then she will succeed in life and even empower other girls.” 

    Winney is already empowering other girls in her own community and will become a mentor for LitClubs now that she has graduated from secondary school. Winney is a powerful example of how the HerStory Campaign supports girls to grow into young women who have a positive impact on themselves, their own communities, and the world. 

    The Power to Change the World

    From the friendships formed during this amazing week, to the profoundly beautiful stories written, told, and displayed by our LitClub members, and our organization's extraordinary partnership with Global Girls Leading Our World, the HerStory Campaign is modeling the power of women and girls to change the world. 

    You can support this crucial work of equity through literacy by joining us at LitWorld's 10th Anniversary Spring Gala on May 10. We invite you to this special evening as we celebrate a decade of supporting kids to author their own lives and stories.