Hebrew Home Intergenerational LitClub

It is the feeling.  It’s the feeling of comfort and affection. As we’re coming back together after a long time, it’s this feeling that convinces me we have succeeded: we are a family.  The elderly residents of the Hebrew Home greet me and the young men from Children’s Village with hugs and kisses and questions and laughter.  After that we’re right back into our circle, telling stories and listening gratefully to every voice. 

For our fall sessions we’ve tried to stay focused on providing space for each person’s real life stories to emerge and enrich our circle.  At the same time, we’ve used prompts to push ourselves to be more poetic.  One example is the following poem in which we each described ourselves as something in nature.  This is inevitably poetic, i.e. I am the sun. But then we mixed into it one line by each person to apologize for something.  We said sorry.  The poem that emerged captures something of our human mystery.  We are at once full of all the majesty of mountains and sorry for failing to care for those around us.  We do in truth carry the beauty of a rain shower but we also fail to be there for those closest to us in our time of need.  This poem brings some of this mystical contradiction to light.  Hearing it in the voices of our elders and our youth was enough for me to take a long pause and reflect.  A quiet moment to remember our breadth and our steps.  This journey, always beginning, that takes us to destinations far beyond the streets outside our windows.  Its good to be back together, to share our truths and our mysteries amidst family.  And it’s good to travel together.  I always wonder where we’ll end up next…


We Could Be the Ocean

A poem by the Youth of Children’s Village and the elders of the Hebrew Home

I am the foliage of the Fall. 

I want everyone to take a leaf to remember me by.

I am the sun

                                                I am sorry if I ever said anything to hurt anyone

I am the people

                                                I am sorry for the candy

I am the morning

                                                I am sorry that I didn’t visit you before you died

I am the lake where people go wading

                                                I am sorry that I took so long to forgive you.

I am the dog

                                                I am sorry for not listening to you when you talk.                          

I am a canyon

                                                I am sorry that I can’t be with my children and family

I am a cheetah

                                                I am sorry for getting mad at you and not talking to you anymore.

I am a cat with nine lives

I am sorry for saying things to you in such a tone of voice but you helped me to see that I have a lot of your hurt and you have mine.

I am a fire ant

I am sorry I cannot be the daughter that you deserve and need me to be.

I am a cool breeze

                                                I am sorry I can’t always be there when you need me to be.

I am a Siberian husky; part wolf, part dog

                                                I am sorry I couldn’t make payments for perpetual care on your grave.

I am music

                                                I am sorry for not following directions the first time.

I am a rain shower

                                                I am sorry for eating the last ox tail.

I am a lion with everyone looking up to me.

                                                I am sorry that I turned my head away from you

I am a blue fire breathing dragon that protects other dragons.

I am sorry for not doing what you asked me to do; not being more patient; for being unable to help you in your time of need; for abandoning you; for being so angry that you left me 20 years ago; for not putting more into my life…

But I know

We could be the colors of a Peacock

We could be the flowers

We could be jaguars

We could be gardens

We could be Mother Nature

We could be people without disease or sickness

Because we could be the ocean—we could cleanse ourselves

We could be Love. 

We are Love.


--Submitted by Intergeneartional LitClub facilitator and Peace Poet, Luke Nephew

LitClub Pakistan, An Inspirational Guest Visitor

Today was our Special Activity Day for the LitClub girls in Pakistan. We had a guest speaker, Mrs. Parvez, come to speak to the class. She told the girls her personal story of her struggle to get a high school education.

Eighteen years ago when Mrs. Parvez graduated high school it was very rare for girls to become so highly educated. She was the first in her family of either gender to stay in school so long. She told the girls of how her household duties often conflicted with her desire to stay in school. She spoke of how she would often wake up hours before school started to do her chores in order for her parents to allow her to attend school for the day. As her parents were uneducated themselves they saw no value in the education of their daughter.

Mrs. Parvez was a very determined girl, however, and saw how all the most respected and admired people in her life were educated. She knew education held value. She told the girls how despite the greater number of discouraging influences in her struggle, there were also voices of encouragement. Her teachers encouraged her to learn and to go further; to believe in herself.

Mrs. Parvez explained how her story goes beyond her years in school. After marriage she became a teacher and a mother. She was driven to become the voice of encouragement for her students and children. As they succeeded in school she shared in their triumph. Many of Mrs. Parvez’s students have surpassed her in their level of education. Mrs. Parvez went on to say that it wasn’t the talent or family wealth that most decided the outcome for her student but their personal determination. Her son is currently studying for his college degree and she couldn’t be prouder of how he developed a love of learning from her.

After her speech she thanked the girls for coming and listening to her story. Mrs. Parvez took refreshments with the girls and answered their questions about her struggles. Our guest speaker joined Ms. Aneela, Mr. Ishraq and I in giving out gifts of notebooks and pencils from Seeds of Hope Foundation to all the girls to aid them in their studies.



--Submitted by Faraz Javed, Founder/President, Seeds of Hope Foundation

Author Christopher Myers Visits the Kibera Innovation Hub

We had an absolutely lovely time yesterday when Christopher Myers came by. He came to the hub in the afternoon and had an amazing read aloud with third grade class from the Red Rose school. He read his book H.O.R.S.E and the kids were so thrilled by how much you could use your imagination to do stuff, even play basketball! They asked many questions, from how he is able to draw and write, to what his favorite food is and what shoe size he wears. 

We then had a more serious chat, and Chris explained to the kids how important it is for them to write their very own stories, because they are the only ones who can tell them the best. He came up with a fantastic idea where the kids will be writing their own stories (including stories about Kibera) and kids from New york will also write their own stories. We will share them with each other and even publish them. Everyone was very excited about this. He also gave the kids a drawing lesson, and even drew one of them! He finished his visit by donating some of his wonderful books which he autographed specially for the Red Rose kids.

After an amazing time at the hub, we took Chris for a visit to the Power Women Moms LitClub. The women were very receptive and shared song and dance with Christopher - we got to see his "moves!" He donated more of his wonderful books!


We had a great time with Christopher and are already looking forward to his next visit

--Submitted by Maureen, LitClub Leader

News from the Bungoma Girls LitClub: Coming Together Makes Us Stronger

Hello from Bungoma, Kenya! This week, on the heels of the International Day of the Girl, we used our LitClub meeting to have an open forum discussion, where every girl had five minutes to write two things that made the month of October difficult and then shared these challenges with a friend.

After talking with our partners, we came together to work through our challenges as a group. The most common problems among the girls included booing from boys whenever they stand to answer a question in class; lack of support from their parents especially fathers; and carrying the burden of helping their mothers run their families by doing income generating chores.

We helped each other come up with practical solutions to some of these problems. We talked about ignoring the booing boys, taking full charge of our LitClub's income generating egg project, and talking to their parents about the importance of educating a girl.

Helping the girls find a solution to the most pressing problems is an accomplishment. I smile when I see them ready to stand up for each other and willing to confront the stumbling blocks to their success in life.

--Submitted by Rose Mureka, Bungoma Regional Coordinator

Story21 Launches at Broadway Housing Communities

Story21 has launched! We had a great first session with our Spanish-speaking families yesterday and are gearing up for our first day with our English-speaking group tomorrow. Everyone was engaged and enthusiastic as we introduced the program and program structure, learned the welcome song, demoed a read aloud using the Reading Rainbow app and did an activity mapping learning goals using a free app. Then we shared a literacy game app, learned the goodbye song and said our farewells. The families were really thoughtful about their goals and it was so exciting to see the parents grow in confidence using the device.

One of the most incredible things we have noticed is the enrollment of families whose children we have known for 3 years through our LitClub and LitCamp programs. Until now we had never had the chance to meet their parents. The parents are captivated and engaged, in large part because Story21 is provides a way to engage with their children and connect with them in a new way. This includes mothers we have never met because they are inside of the home or are working 3 jobs, and fathers who are often outside of the country but are taking their precious time here in the US to be with us and with their children in the program. It is really wonderful to be on this journey together, and to be building a whole-family relationship that will allow the children of our programs to have a steady, open system of support to become lifelong literacy learners.

Meet LitWorld's First Pakistani Girls LitClub

          Local girls nervously entered the classroom with a parent to hear more about and potentially join our 
new LitClub for Girls. We had gone through the community in the weeks before to invite the girls and 
give an explanation of the LitClub we were planning to start. There were still lots of questions from 
parents about what exactly a “LitClub” was. They knew of schools, they knew of tutoring but having a 
club for girls to gather to practice reading, writing, and storytelling for fun is a new idea here. We were 
worried some parents would feel it was a waste of their daughter’s time but to our surprise every girl in 
the room got parental approval to join!
          After their parents left the girls were thrilled to hear that Ms. Aneela, our LitClub leader, was going to 
begin every class with a song, The Hello Song. English is a secondary but official language here so the 
girls were very attentive and curious to learn this song of greeting with which they would start each 
          The girls were shy at first but really come alive for Read Aloud every week. Only one or two of the girls 
have any form of casual reading in their house. Most families only have second hand school books and 
trade those every year to help pay for the next school years required books.

The girls look forward to coming every week and cherish the opportunity to sing, read, write, draw, and 
especially laugh as a group. Thank you LitWorld for your support in helping Seeds of Hope Foundation encourage these girls through the power of story.

-Submitted by Faraz, Programming Coordinator in Faisalabad, Pakistan

The Ziwani Girls and Boys LitClubs Visit the Kenya National Library

On July 13th, the Girls and Boys LitClubs of Ziwani, Kenya took a field trip to visith the Kenya National Library in Buruburu. On the way to Buruburu, our van was filled with laughter and all of the children were happy and joyful. Some shared stories while others enjoyed the scenery outside, and delighted in counting the number of cars our van overtook.

We arrived at the library in good time and the kids moods soared with anticipation as many of them had never been to a full-fledged academic library before. We were received by the librarian on duty and then LitClub leader and experienced librarian, Lesley Koyi, toured LitClubs around the various departments and answered the children's questions. The kids were shown both the adult section and children’s section and asked for time to sit down to read some of the books.

After a delicious lunch prepared by Angelina, the Director of the Single Mothers Association (the organization that hosts and runs the LitClub program in Ziwani), the day came to a close. The library management was impressed with the LitClubs and invited them to return to enjoy future activities and events.

--Submitted by Lesley Koyi, LitClub Leader

A Day of Mother-Daughter Fun for the Kisumu Girls LitClub

This week we had a very different and interesting LitClub session. The LitClub members called in their mothers to experience the LitWorld Club. The little girls' mothers came to the Golden Girls Foundation Women's Empowerment Centre from far and wide. We started our LitClub session as usual and taught the moms the "Hello Song" and how to play the name game.

Then we broke into groups to tell stories together. It was very interesting to realize that some of the women shared similar life experiences. We asked each group to write down their experiences and then we created a web, drawing lines to connect our commonalities.

Next it was time for a big game! We blindfolded some of the mothers and challenged them to reach a chair that was placed at a distance, some could reach and some could not. This demonstration was used to illustrate that it is important for the mothers who did not get an opportunity to read and write to encourage their children to grasp the opportunity to learn.

We finished the day by reading aloud to each other. It was a very lovely day and the mothers were also very happy to learn  and experience the activities that their daughters learn through the LitWorld Program. We hope to launch an official Moms LitClub soon! 

--Submitted by Golda, Girls LitClub Leader in Kisumu, Kenya

Exploring Possibilities and Launching Moms LitClubs in Kisumu

The Kisumu Girls LitClubs started the month of June with a trip to Kisumu Girls high school. By the time we arrived there was a lot of excitement amongst the girls. For the most of the eighty LitClub members on the trip, it was their first time visiting a high school.

In other exciting news, Moms LitClubs launched at two programming sites, the Magadi and Nanga Hubs. It was such a joy to know that the LitClub mothers were waiting in anticipation because they had heard of LitWorld, and though they didn't know exactly what it was all about, they wanted to be part of the work that brings their daughters so much joy. 

During our first meeting, there was a question and answer session with the LitClub Leaders and Regional Coordinator. Then we made a circle and sang songs while mothers and daughters took turns meeting in the center of the circle for a dance off!

The girls were so surprised that their mothers would actually have a dance competition with them. The Coordinator encouraged moms to spend more time with their girls because this goes a long way to creating and nurturing a bond that will strengthen during their teenage years, and last for years to come. There was a lot of laughter as jokes were cracked and the girls socialized with their mothers and with each other.

--Submitted by Phoebe, Girls LitClub Leader, Kisumu, Kenya

Springtime of Falling Down

A Reflection by Luke Nephew of The Peace Poets and LitWorld

We’re all afraid to fall down.  But we all have and we all will again.  Falling is part of the path we’re all walking. And so when we gather in the Circle of Peace with the Residents of the Hebrew Home and the young men of The Children’s Village, we don’t hide the bruises left by the many ways we fall down, we honor the lessons that they teach.  

This Springtime came with the good fortune of three Sundays in a row of our poetry circle.  As winter wandered away, we met in the quiet library on the banks of the Hudson River.  It is always a warm quiet.  A comfortable quiet.  A quiet that we fill with words woven into stories and poems.  After years of doing a variety of poetic exercises mainly focusing on LitWorld’s 7 Strengths, we decided to take these three sessions to share with each other more about the stories of our lives.  We used the same style of composing one big group poem, but now our creation was filled with moments and places and feelings and of course, falls that we have lived along the way. 

The first week we opened up the space to describe the beginning of our story.  It was an amazing collage of geography and history.  The young men recounted births and moves around NYC and as far away as Darvin from the Dominican Republic and Jesus from Puerto Rico.  The residents also took us for trips from Ms. Phyllis’ Ohio to Ms. Betty’s New Mexico.  Ms. Leah smiled as she shared that her story began on 196th Street and Valentine Avenue in the 1920s.  I almost thought I heard her wrong.  I couldn’t believe it- That’s my block, my home of many years!  She was born a few buildings away almost a century ago.  Imagine how many times she has fallen and gotten back since then.  Her smile is strong and brave.

The next week we went to the transformative moments.  Here is where many folks talked about moving away from loved ones or falling in love, loosing their homes or their families, getting married or learning to be alone, first loves or final words.  We listened to each other talk about how our hearts have fallen.   At moments, we held back the tears at how human we let each other be.  This is the gift of a poetry circle: we can recount the falls without the limits of logic.  When has loosing your family or falling in love ever felt logical?  Only through poetry can we arrive anywhere in the vicinity of such emotional territories.  We ended this week by creating a poem called “From that Point on”, which was full of feelings and wisdom.  One of the young men said, “From that point on…I knew I wanted to be with her.”  It was a gentle admission of falling into young love.  He said it so quietly.  But it was that warm comfortable quiet and he made the whole room blush.

Our last week, I offered to the group that I’d love them to come up with a line.  Timothy went ahead and proposed that we all share what we want this group to know.  In our check in, he and a few others had mentioned that they were feeling really sad because this was the last time we would be gathering as a group for a long time and for some of the young men who will be leaving Children’s Village, it was their final circle of peace at the Hebrew Home.  It seemed that Tim wanted to open up this emotional space for everyone.  He succeeded.  One by one, folks expressed their gratitude to all the others in the circle.  They said it felt like family. They said they loved being together.  Their tone, rising and falling in emotion.  They said they learned so much from one another.  They said they were going to miss everyone…

These three weeks were honest and open art-making sessions.  We went places together for the first time.  I think the biggest difference was sharing some of our hardest moments.  Often times, it wasn’t even the words but the tone of the speaker as they said things like “from that point on I knew I wanted to appreciate life every day.”  It was the tone that let us into our real experiences of love and loss, rising and falling.  One of the residents came to the second week with a bad bruise on her face.  She had fallen.  The young men seemed to be worried about her- concerned eyes and hushed voices.  But she was back.  She had gotten up, gotten better and made her way to our circle to share about it.   She had lived to tell about it.  And so why waste the opportunity to tell?  Here she was.

We did unfortunately miss the voice of Mr. Saul, a regular participant.  As it turns out we learned from his friends and the staff that he too had suffered quite a bad fall.  But from what this group has taught each other time and again, the falling is just part of the rising and that is how we grow.  We parted with affection, gratitude and the quiet confidence that despite the falls, its springtime. Saul will get back up and have us all laughing again soon as he always does.  The young men will overcome their challenges and continue growing.  But while many celebrate the bright flowers and say springtime is all about the blossom, a poet remembers the seeds that came before.  The brave strong seeds that endured the fall and gave birth to new life. 


**Submitted by LitClub Leader, Luke Nephew

LitClub Nepal Volunteers to Distribute Clean Water

On 27th April, 2013, Niharika Shishu Kunja High School conducted ‘Free Water Distribution Program’ on the special occasion of Baishdhara Purnima, a day celebrated each year to mark the inauguration of the beautiful park that boasts of twenty-two stone waterspouts. Hundreds of people visit the park on this day to celebrate this occasion.  To help beat the summer heat, Niharika Shishu Kunja High School generously decided to offer free drinking water to people visiting the park.

With five girls of Lit Club Nepal (Anjana, Sadikshya, Deepika, Sailaja and Manisha), I reached Balaju Park at 10 o’clock in the morning. It was a hot summer day so the timing of our arrival seemed perfect for the program. Everything was already set as planned: the tent, chairs, cups and many jars of water. One of the teachers of Niharika, Mr.Yubak Raj Parajuli, was already there to help us proceed with the program.

The girls stood there patiently and happily the entire day offering water to people who were thirsty. Many people appreciated their work and dedication. Some even blessed us for our service. The program continued till 5 in the evening. I feel proud to say that the girls and Lit Club Nepal as a whole did a really good job on that day. They were able to understand the importance of helping others and the feeling of togetherness could be felt.

I would like to thank Niharika Shishu Kunja High School for giving us the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful and fruitful community service. Also, I would like to congratulate the girls of Lit Club Nepal for their great achievement. 


--Submitted by LitClub Leader, Surabhi Sharma

Kisumu LitClub Leaders Travel to Kibera for Training, Learning and Laughter

The Kisumu LitClubu leaders' long awaited trip to Nairobi started with a night trip by bus on Thursday, May 9. This time of the year is rainy and cold in Kenya, so we all dressed warmly for the trip before leaving Kisumu. We arrived safely in Nairobi despite the poor road conditions in Nairobi. We were all excited about the trip since this was one of the first major trips that Kisumu LitClubs has ever ever done.

A total of 8 LitClub facilitators from Kisumu made the trip Kibera. When we arrived at the Kibera Innovation Hub, our team was met by Prisca and Maureen. There was a lot to learn these two ladies who have a lot of energy and are doing a wonderful job with the children of Kibera. We were amazed at their work and the way they interacted with the children and the different activities they are engaged in.

The Kibera LitClub team was very receptive to our questions and experiences. Prisca and her team took us through a training session showing us how they run the LitClub and how they structure the whole program. When Prisca and her team took us through the 7 Strengths of LitWorld, our Kisumu facilitators paid close attention and wished they could hear more, as Prisca and her team delivered the information in a captivating way. We were so encouraged with the work that was taking place at Kibera. We learned a lot from each other.

Our leaders took lots of notes from Prisca and Maureen. We also had the privilege of meeting the area Member of Parliament (MP), Hon. Kenneth Okoth, who was teaching the children of the Red Rose School the Kenyan National Anthem. He is the founder of Children of Kibera which partners with LitWorld to run the LitClub programs in Kibera.

Lessons Learned:

1. As LitClub leaders, we should always find the child in us for easy understanding of the children.

2. Reading aloud does help the child visualize and pronounce words better.

3. When doing a lesson on a particular strength, the best way to make the learning accessible for children is by backing it up with activites.

--Phoebe, Girls LitClub Leader, Kisumu, Kenya


Heart Maps from Mexico

We are a small, but strong and intelligent group of girls. We live in Monterrey, Mexico and we attend the American School Foundation of Monterrey.

Our feelings on LitClub:
"I have learned to be creative with my work." - Creative Corde
"I have learned that I can be free in this group and be myself!"
"I learned that you can have your own point of view and you can share it because the other girls in the group will respect it."
" I have learned to express my own opinions." - Dancing Danny
We loved creating our perfect world and designing our heart maps.



*Submitted by LitClub Leader Michele Neale

Exploring Huanchaco with the Girls LitClub

Time in Peru works very flexibly. It is more of a vague idea than a fixed notion, and simple things such as buying bread can be complicated into hour long encounters which leave you wondering how you ever get anything done.

Although I had stressed to the girls at LitClub that we were leaving at 3pm "en punto," it came as no surprise to me that they began to appear, ambling leisurely towards the library at 3.30pm – I myself hadn’t actually arrived until 3.15! The plan for the afternoon was to walk down to Huanchaco to meet with a local restaurant owner at 4pm. The girls were to be given the chance to ask her questions about her family business before we went to the beach to interview a local surfer.

However, as 4pm rapidly approached, Carmen and I were still running around Cerrito, tracking down missing girls, their parents and the odd elusive permission slip. When we finally began the walk to Huanchaco, an easy 15 minutes, it somehow stretched into an epic camino worthy of any adventure film as the girls just had to climb this wall or that tree.

We arrived at the restaurant at 5pm.

As we approached, I began frantically preparing apologies for the owner, but she welcomed us heartily with no thought or mention of our lateness. The girls listened politely and asked her very thoughtful questions about her life and her work. They loved the idea that she was an independent woman who ran her own business using skills she had learned from her mother and her grandmother as a young girl.

After a wonderful time with Doña Mariela, we trekked onward to the beach. There can be no doubt that the highlight of the day was interviewing Faviola a local surf champion and student, who was excellent at answering the girls questions and giving them a little inspiration. As Faviola described how she had borrowed a friend’s old surf board while she worked to save up for her own, their eyes lit up with hope and possibility.

Many of the girls attend Otra Cosa’s surf school, which allows them to surf during the summer holidays, but during the rest of the year there is no opportunity for them to catch some waves. They loved the idea that they could work together to rent or borrow a surf board from a local surf school so that they could keep on surfing all year long.

After a quick surf lesson from Faviola on the sand, we headed back to Doña Mariela’s for some delicious donuts with syrup before I hurriedly shepherded the girls back up to Cerrito.

The girl’s excellent manners and thoughtful and insightful questions made me very proud to be working with them. The changes I have seen in them since the start of the LitWorld programme in terms of self-confidence and inquisitiveness have been magnificent to witness and it is such a pleasure to be involved in their journey.

--Submitted by Hayley, Girls LitClub leader

The Golden Girls Foundation Kisumu LitClubs Share Stories About Rainy Season

It was another great week for The Golden Girls Foundation Girls LitClub. We had a week of mentoring sessions with the girls wherein the girls shared stories of how they meet their day to day challenges to come to school.

Some of them talked of the long distance they have to cover, the rough terrains and sometimes the challenges that Mother Nature poses with the weather. Currently, it is the rainy season and the girls are juggling between waking up early, helping in the field with planting, and then running to school while wading through the puddles of water to ensure that they reach school on time.

However they told their stories in such an amusing, lighthearted way, that they ended up cracking our ribs with laughter. At the end of it all we were in high spirits. All these challenges having been shared with other girls instilled the spirit of sisterhood and belonging among the girls.

--Submitted by Golda, Girls LitClub Leader in Kisumu, Kenya

LitClub Nepal Update: Making New Friends and Learning New Things

The members of LitClub Nepal got together for another session on Monday. I was very happy because some new girls have joined the club, and I was very excited to meet them.  As always, we started the program by greeting one another with smiles and then we sang ‘The Hello Song’. The new girls seemed astonished by the way we learned things at LitClub. We started off by answering the check-in question, ‘Which was the moment when you felt proud this week?’ One of the girls wrote that she felt proud while helping her 89-year-old granny at home, which was very touching. We all appreciated her with a round of applause.

We then moved on to a community building activity.  For this part of the program, we planned to do an activity called the hand circle. I carefully explained the directions of how to carry out this activity. The girls were very excited to sketch their hands on the paper and decorate it with the color that explained their feelings. After that, the girls wrote down one word that summarized the type of world they want to live in inside their respective ‘hands’. This community building activity proved to be a hit. The girls used their imagination and creativity to draw this picture of hands holding each other.  This carried a very important message that they wanted to give to other people in this world.

After the girls drew the hand circle, we moved to the read aloud activity where we read the poem ‘A Bird came down the Walk’ by Emily Dickinson. The girls found the poem a little bit challenging, so after the read aloud, we had a group discussion on the poem’s meaning.  Even though the poem was a little difficult for the girls to understand, they enjoyed how nicely the poet, Emily Dickinson, described the bird and its movements. It was encouraging to see them enthusiastically putting forward their thoughts and opinions about the poem.

We then did another community building activity where we learned how to make a personal journal. The girls collaborated and helped one another to make and decorate their journals. Bineeta, one of the girls of the club, who is also a very good artist, had wonderful ideas about decorating the journal. She was a great help to me as well as to all of the other girls doing this activity. At the end of this session, all of us sat down in a circle, praised each  other for the wonderful work we had done on that meeting, and then sang ‘The Farewell Song’ with great rejoice.

We met some new friends, we learned some new things, and we had fun doing it.  Our meeting was a huge success.

 -- Surabhi Sharma, LitClub Leader Nepal

Tea Time with the Polo Grounds Girls LitClub

During their spring break, the Polo Grounds Girls LitClub traveled down from Harlem for a special tea party dressed in their nicest outfits. With Dorothy and Brooke’s help, we prepared a comprehensive spread. (Yes, there were cucumber sandwiches.) Hadeer Maher, Pam Allyn’s mentee from the George W. Bush Presidential Center Women's Initiative, joined us that afternoon. As we ate finger foods, Hadeer helped all of the girls translate their birthdays into Arabic.

Sticking their pinkies out while sipping tea, some girls affected their voices to resemble British accents: “May I have a spot of tea, please?” and “Oh, that sounds simply splendid!” Like in our weekly meetings, we took time to read from R.J. Palacio’s Wonder. Still nibbling on snacks, the girls listened while scanning the LitWorld office. For all of the girls, it was their first time seeing the space.

But why read my reaction, when you can hear a review straight from the source? After the tea party, Dasira, a LitClub member, wrote us a message through the LitWorld website:

"Hi my name is Dasira and I go to LitClub at the Polo Grounds. LitClub is so fun I really love the trips and I feel so comfortable being in girls club because they give us these notebooks and when I write my feelings I feel happy because the LitWorld staff read it. I LOVE GIRLS CLUB AND LITWORLD!!!!!!!"

--Susannah Rosenfield, LitWorld Intern

A Call to Action from the Young Leaders of the LitWorld Committee at East Side Middle School

Hey everybody!

We are the LitWorld committee at East Side Middle School. For the past two years, we have been building friendships with students who attend the Red Rose School in Kibera, Kenya. Kibera is the largest slum in East Africa and the students live in horrible conditions. However, you cannot tell that they suffer a lot, because they have never complained.

Our friends are kind, caring, and relatable. They have opened our eyes and made us rethink many things we take for granted. Our problems seem miniscule compared to theirs. But they have made one thing clear, they don’t want anyone’s pity. Our friends want to be treated just like everyone else.

Unfortunately, in Kibera, high school is not free. It costs $500-1500 per child per year. The issue is that many families do not have the money to send their children to high school. If children don’t go to high school, they will have to get a job to support their families or they will have to get married to support themselves. So far we have raised $2,300 and with the help of Litworld’s already existing grant, we have all managed to send all the eighth graders who attend the Red Rose School to high school for one year.

We are beginning to write letters to political leaders in the U.S. to help spread awareness about this issue of not being able to continue their education. Education is a very important thing, it is a right and everyone should be able to get one.

--Written by the young leaders of East Side Middle School 

Here are three brilliant grade 8 graduates in Kibera. Oh the stories they will tell.  

Harlem Girls LitClub: Learning to Show Your Heart

"This past week in LitClub, we completed a heart maps with the 4th and 5th grade girls. Typically, you fill a heart map with your roles in the world, however, this time we wrote down roles we hope to have in the future. For example, I put that I want to be a graduate school degree holder. (Is there a simpler way to say this?) During this session, I sat next to a girl named Christen, an intelligent and incisive member, who can get squirmy during the longer stretches of LitClub and her restlessness can sometimes verge on disruption.

After completing our heart maps, Christen and I shared the roles we hope to inhabit in the future. Among other things, she wants to be a gymnast, and a recipient of good grades. I explained to her that since my grandmother had recently fallen ill and entered the hospital, I want to be a granddaughter. Immediately, she sympathized with furrowed eyebrows and a slight frown. “I’m sorry about your grandma,” she told me as she reached over for a hug. “I hope she gets better.” Having someone who is often silly and jocular express such genuine, heartfelt support held such meaning."

--Susannah Rosenfield, LitWorld Intern

Learning to See - Strengthening Visual Literacy at the Broadway Housing LitClub

To dream big, sometimes we have to start small. Dreams, after all, are a part of our imaginations, our mind's way of taking the things we simply see and molding them to be parts of our story. At LitWorld our definition of literacy includes reading, writing, listening, speaking and visual literacy. We are such a visual generation, constantly inundated with images, but sometimes we forget to slow down with our visual consumption. We forget how to see. We forget that with the small details we can build a beautiful picture.

During LitClub this week at Broadway Housing, we discovered what it takes to build curiosity through an activity called "Picture Prompts." Take a look at the photo below. What do you see?

Do you see a jilted former employee exiled from the Wonka factory walking away in shame? Or perhaps an old lonely man looking for a good slice of beach to sleep on alone? Maybe the man has just unfortunately discovered that the public shower has run out of water?

Before the teens came up with these creative answers, we started with the basics of seeing. We asked them to answer "What do you see?" on the most literal level. The words water, concrete, metal, man, old, black clothing, clouds and sky are examples of what we compiled. With our lists of words, the Broadway Housing LitClub then transformed this picture from "what we see" into a story we tell.

--Natasha Rivera, LitWorld Intern and LitClub Facilitator