Girls Club Baltimore

Celebrating the End of the Year with Girls LitClub In Baltimore!

For our final gathering, we invited families to join us to hear about and celebrate the wonderful work the girls have been doing for the last 12 weeks. They described books and poems we shared, and the girls read some of their own work in addition to some of their favorite authors. It was great to hear them excited to share and discuss their thoughts with everyone. The moms who were able to attend were delighted to see their daughters so engaged and enthusiastic about reading and writing and thinking. We enjoyed snacks, and I sent the girls off with mini-notebooks and pencils so they can write their observations and ideas wherever they go!

Submitted by Girls LitClub Facilitator Virginia Crawford

Girls LitClubs Baltimore: Hope is Me & You.

*This entry was submitted by our Girls LitClub Facilitator in Baltimore, Virginia

This week's Girls LitClub topic was Hope. We read a poem by Sri Chinmoy, and the girls understood that we are all the same, that all people are connected, and that by acting from that place of understanding, we can overcome any obstacle.

Then we read and listened to several pieces from Hip Hop Speaks to Children (my goodness how much that book is loved!), and the girls wrote their own ideas about hope. Several knew a dance to one of the hip-hop pieces and performed that for us, another wrote and sang an original song for us!

If their creativity is anything to go by, yes, Hope is alive and well! As we near the end of this first part of our club, my hope is that the girls remember the connectedness we have discovered and always act from that place of understanding.

Girls LitClub in Baltimore Enjoy an Author Visit!


This week we were lucky enough to have Monalisa DeGross visit our club! She has published three books and is writing her fourth. She also works in a library, so she knows quite a lot about reading and writing. The girls were very excited to ask her about her books as many had already read at least one of them. Monalisa! 

Ms. DeGross described each of her books and gave some excellent advice for anyone who might want to write books: Read! Observe! and Write! She pointed out that we all "tell stories" even if we're just describing the trip to or from school and that each of our voices is valuable.

 She even brought us gifts! Each girl received a copy of The Three Questions (adapted from Leo Tolstoy), Donavan's Word Jar by Monalisa herself, and a note pad and pencil all tied together with bright shoe laces. It was a lively and delightful afternoon! Thank you, Monalisa!

Submitted by Girls Club Facilitator Virginia

Giving Thanks with Girls LitClub in Baltimore

This week my club discussed things we love and feel thankful for. We read Eloise Greenfield's poem, Honey, I Love and discussed what she loved: her mom, her cousin, her friend and playing dolls. Then we considered what we love, and being the day before Thanksgiving, what we feel thankful for. One of the girls mentioned how she enjoyed making turkeys by tracing the outline of her hand on paper.

We did that and then wrote one of our items in each of the turkey's "feathers." At least one girl was so appreciative she filled the entire shape! We made a collective list and found that we are thankful for many of the same things: our families, friends, homes, school and even our club! Here's hoping you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that we all remember to be appreciative every day.


We Are Thankful for Girls LitClubs in Baltimore for their Generosity!

Today we completed our food drive. Our boxes were so heavy we had to ask for help getting them to my car!

The GirlsClub members of City Neighbors Charter School decided they wanted to do something to help people who suffer from hunger. They made beautiful posters and hung them around the school. Families brought in donations, and today we delivered them to The House of Ruth. I'm so proud of them for putting kindness into action!

pictured: Ashley from House of Ruth, Virginia, GirlsClub Leader, and Luca, GirlsClub representative

Submitted by: Virginia Crawford

Phenomenal Young Women of Girls LitClubs in Maryland!

Confidence. Something you need to be successful, to accomplish your goals. Not being afraid to say what you think or do what you think is right. But not in a way that would put other people down or hurt them. These were some of the thoughts my GirlsClub had on confidence.

I introduced the concept of "slam poetry" and the award-winning poet Gayle Danley. We listened to a recording of one of her poems where she describes winning the National Poetry Slam Championship. The poem's narrator describes a few experiences of people putting her down, but she doesn't listen to them. She believes in her talent, so she borrows a car and goes to a poetry competition in another city. Even though it is an unfamiliar situation, she is confident and leaps in and does her best.

Then we read Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou. The girls pointed out the speaker's confidence in herself as she is - that she didn't need to change herself to please anyone else, that we can all have confidence in ourselves just as we are.

We discussed things we feel confident about in ourselves and things we would like to see in our future. The girls then made Confidence Boards to represent these personal strengths and hopes. One girl selected and image of people in what appears to be a hanging tent made of strong see-through netting. She said, "This represents me and my bird's eye view of the world." There was also an image of a bird and another of a handprint pattern. "And this represents me not being afraid to go out and make my mark on the world." May we all share our talents and make beautiful marks on our world!

Submitted by our Girls LitClubs Facilitator in Maryland, Virginia

Setting the Bird Free


A few days ago my club focused on kindness. We discussed our thoughts about the word and listened to the poem  "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou. The girls connected with the idea of feeling trapped and limited like a caged bird, and they also wanted to expand, to be of help to those who are in some way "caged" by difficult circumstances. We made a list of issues that we care about and would like to change for the better. That list included bullying and under-supplied schools, homelessness and poverty and hunger. Several girls mentioned hunger in particular, and considering that Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, we decided to hold a food drive in our school and donate what we collect to a local shelter for women so they too might have a feast. The girls were very enthusiastic, so much so, that in a matter of 15 minutes they had created beautiful posters letting their school-mates know about our food drive! In the coming days we will place their posters and donation boxes around the school. The girls were very excited by this kindness-in-action - doing something that will help people they don't know. How very inspiring they are!


Sisters Through and Through


This afternoon the girls and I considered Sisterhood. We reviewed what we'd written on our poster several weeks ago and expanded those ideas. One member pointed out that we don't actually have to be related to share sisterhood with each other - that we in our club were like sisters because we're kind to each other and share things like stories and writing. Then we read a beautiful story of girls sharing and caring for each other - Four Feet, Two Sandles.

The girls were captivated by it and the very different world it presents. They were touched by the way the girls shared a single pair of sandles and the friendship that developed between them. I asked them to describe each character in just a few words, then to consider themselves as a character in the story of their lives. I asked them to describe themselves, then work in small groups to write a story or play where each character says or does at least one thing. They were invited to begin: We went for a walk and saw the most amazing thing... One group imagined a magical tree that had crystals hanging from it and a playful puppy waiting for them beneath its branches.

Another group decided to exaggerate certain of their qualities to make a point about how some friends interact. I was a little surprised by everyone's reluctance to work with their own "characters." Everyone wanted to exaggerate certain things or deal with entirely fictitious situations. After a rather tumultuous writing period, we read/performed for each other complete with applause at the end of each piece - sisters through and through.

Submitted by Virginia, our Girls LitClub Facilitator in Baltimore, Maryland.

Girls LitClubs in Maryland Explore Perspective/Point of View


First I showed the girls this image and asked what they saw. (They saw both the face and the vase.)

Then I showed them this image and asked if they knew where it was. They guessed NY and DC. It's here in Baltimore in front of our train station. Looked at from different angles, it is a man and it is also a woman. At night there is a purplish light in the heart area of both. (I love this statue.)

Then we pointed out that what you see really depends on how you look at it. 


We collected our journals and pencils, and Luca asked us to write a few sentences about how we would feel if we were children who had a favorite tree. We could climb it, read under it, rest in its shade, etc. It was the perfect tree, but one day we went to it and found just a stump. We wrote for about 4 mins.

Then she asked us to imagine being the tree, knowing you are loved by many children but you get cut down. Again, 4 mins to write.

Finally she asked us to imagine being a parent of a sick child who didn't have a job or health insurance. But we found a job, and it involved cutting down a beautiful tree. Again 4 mins to write our feelings.

Then we shared what we'd written and discussed how our feelings were different each time. I was delighted by one response in particular from the parent's perspective: I'd be happy to have a job and be able to take care of my kid, but I'd also feel sad about the kids who loved to play on that tree, so I'd volunteer to build them a new swing set and plant new trees and take care of the park.



This entry was submitted by Virginia, our Girls Club Facilitator in Baltimore, Maryland. Sounds like you had a great day with the girls exploring how to look at the positive (and multiple) side of things, as this is a multi-dimensional world! Thank you for helping the girls to explore new ideas, and for allowing them to see from different angles.

Girls LitClubs in Baltimore Explore Curiosity

Thank you to our Girls LitClub Facilitator Virginia Crawford for submitting this blog entry about her group of girls in Maryland!


This week my girls and I considered Curiosity. We read a Shel Silverstein poem in which the speaker observes someone he believes to be upside down, but then he pauses to consider if he himself might be upside down. Then we discussed Mary Oliver's poem The Summer Day in which she asks questions of the universe and describes her close observation of a grasshopper - a demonstration of curiosity in action. I invited the girls to consider questions they might have and also any moments of close observation when they felt so interested in something they couldn't take their eyes from it and then use those questions and experiences to write a poem. They asked some interesting questions like "Why are we here in this world? Why are clouds in the sky? Why are trees growing? Why are lines on my hands?" "What if I looked like a different person? Does it matter how I look?"

Another wrote this poem:


The wolf's eyes glitter
in the darkness. His paws
fall silently
on the ground.
The birds squawk
in the sky, and the crickets
practice their songs.
I don't know why
the world was built like this.
I don't know why
the trees stand so tall.
I don't know why
we try to grasp
something that isn't there.

Luca S., 5th grader


We look forward to reading more work from Baltimore. Thank you Virginia!

Girls Clubs in Baltimore, Maryland Make Heart Maps


I've long been a fan of simplicity and directness where possible, especially in the use of language. So when a very wise 4th grader said this yesterday, I was struck by her efficiency but more importantly her ability express such an important concept at a relatively young age. "We might look different on the outside, but we're all the same on the inside." And her club-mates agreed with her. We read and discussed Mem Fox's Whoever You Are which beautifully illustrates this very simple and profound truth. We considered ways we belong to each other (as friends and classmates), to our families (as daughters and sisters, cousins and moms), and to the whole world (as human beings). Then we made heart maps to represent all these important connections in our lives. My friend and artist Dorothy Valakos kindly shared her talent and materials so each girl was able to create a beautiful piece of art to help her remember the important roles she plays in the world. I hope the girls will continue to explore all the ways we are very similar, because although we might look different on the outside, we're all the same on the inside.
Shared by Virginia, Girls LitClub Facilitator in Baltimore, MD