A Parting Poem from our LitCorps

This summer, LitCorps interns worked in classrooms throughout New York City to implement LitCamp in partnership with the New York City Department of Education and Scholastic. Our inaugural LitCorps class wrote a poem as a reflection of their time with the kids and as encouragement to future LitCorps members:

From Brooklyn to Rhode Island,
We all
come our separate ways.
Our ideas about literacy aligned
Learning new information in a daze.

Commuting with a canvas bag
Full of pencils and post-its,
Vibing on some LitWorld swag
And hoping not to get roasted.

I seriously cannot believe
I spilled coffee on my dress.
These kids are gonna call me out
For looking like a mess.

Sure enough, I get to school
And they point at the stain.
"I know," I sigh and explain,
"I spilled my coffee on the train."

We laugh and then they hug me.
Kids are funny that way:
They'll notice your coffee spill
And always hug you anyway.

They collaborate in twos and threes
They help each other read and write
They dance and freeze for all to see
I wonder if they’ll take a bite

Into the imagination of books
Infinite possibilities for expansion of mind
Full of endless crannies and nooks
It helps the most when they are kind

A constellation of fingers
explode with shooting stars
A stack of folders is piled up
and stuffed with fresh memoirs

We wrestle with blank stares
And lure creativity out their mind
Leaning over empty pages
Asking “who, what, where, when, why?”

That feeling when you plant a question
And watch a forest of raised hands grow
And every kid gives their best shot
Even when there are answers they don’t know

Some teachers may challenge your thoughts
And discourage you from being eager,
But these kids could grow to be astronauts
Or passionate English teachers!

Be flexible, be kind,
Be open to new things.
Take it one day at a time --
You’ll see them spread their wings.

The children may yell and scream,
Their small voices will grow bigger by one another
Until peace seems a distant dream
And all of their words blend together.

But when they stop for a moment,
When the words you read reach their ears,
Stop and listen to the quiet
And then welcome their thoughts, questions, and ideas.

And if they begin again,
Not two minutes after they’ve stopped,
Be patient and count to ten
And remember the moment
When each one was a scholar, and all of them felt on top.

We hope for all to see
Us coming together to form a bond
That will take LitCorps to new places and beyond.

We are so grateful to the LitCorps for what they accomplished in leading students to become confident Super Readers and writers and for their thoughtful reflection on their time in each special classroom.

As a special culminating project, the LitCorps worked on a LitCamp publication -- a digital zine of the experience and outcomes of LitCamp! 

From Our Partners: Phoebe's LitWorld Journey

Phoebe O. Darya, Partnership Coordinator at Milele

LitWorld has been such a transformational journey for me.

As a mother of 3 girls, I know the hardships and struggles that children go through, especially the girl child. I grew up in a family of 5 girls and 2 boys, in the days when the boy child was seen as more valuable than the girl child. In the days when the girl child was to do all the house chores and not the boy child. In the days when the girl child had to forgo education to pave way for the boy child to learn. In the days when the girl child was to be seen and not to be heard.

Sadly, some of those views are still present in Kenya. In 2013, when I began working with LitWorld, I managed to come up with a work plan on how I could empower girls in the Kisumu region. The empowerment had to start with my own girls.  I spoke to my 3 girls on the importance of speaking out, then I started using the techniques I was using in my house to better my work in the office. I strengthened the Girls LitClubs that I had founded in the area, and the girls told me so many stories. The stories I heard grew from extremely difficult circumstances.

At this time, I could talk to Madison and Dorothy, who were my point persons on the LitWorld team. They listened and understood my feelings. They started teaching me about the 7 Strengths and how I could first apply them to myself. I discovered that I needed to apply the 7 Strengths in my everyday life to be able to implement them on the ground.

I started to do so through the many partnerships I formed. I started working closely with the Police Gender Desk, the Children’s Department, and the County Education Offices. I began involving these three sectors in the major LitWorld events such as WRAD, LitCamps, and Stand Up for Girls, sharing the 7 Strengths throughout.

I reached a major milestone in 2016 when I started working with Milele and had the opportunity to fully commit to running LitClubs in the Kisumu region. So far I have managed to initiate 10 LitClubs-- 7 Girls Clubs, 1 Boys Club, 1 Teens Club and 1 Mom’s Club. The methodology used in encompassing all these clubs is simple: the family unit. If I am able to facilitate mothers to use LitWorld as a foundation for storytelling with their children, then the community will be filled with many stories to tell.

In the Boys Club, the boy child is introduced to the 7 Strengths first for self-empowerment, then secondly, we combine the 7 Strengths and their growth in the community by teaching them the traits of being a good mannered boy in a community where girls can be pushed to the margins. We empower them to stand up for their sisters and mothers.

These boys are getting to know the importance of education to both the girl and boy child, and true friendship is cultivated amongst them and the girls at a very tender age. Above all, we teach them the power of storytelling and the importance of implementing the 7 Strengths in their day-to-day activities.

During my work at LitWorld Kisumu, I have faced many challenges ranging from the language barrier (my first language is English and my second is Swahili--I  run the LitClubs in an area where the native language is Dholuo) to transportation issues to the trauma some of the children have endured. This has pushed me to work hard to fight for them, develop trust with the families, and form a good working relationship with the schools and county government of Kisumu.

I foresee LitWorld having a safe space in every school within Kisumu County within the next 5 years. I dream of the days that we shall be able to incorporate the 7 Strengths Curriculum within the Kenyan school curriculum. I see the days when many women and mothers in Kisumu will be literate due to the advocacy skills LitWorld is imparting in the hearts of the children.

It has been a journey, a long journey but one that I never regret having taken. Thank you LitWorld for creating a platform for everyone, especially women and girls, to tell their stories.

News 12 Visits LitCamp at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale

There is a very special LitCamp happening this week at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale, a nonprofit nursing home in the Bronx. On Tuesday, the campers had the chance to interview residents with questions they created like, "What is the funniest joke you know?" and "What is your favorite meal?" Old and young came together for this meaningful interaction! 

25 kids with our partners at Broadway Housing Communities in Harlem are attending this special one-week LitCamp in partnership with Hebrew Home at Riverdale. Kids and residents are participating in this intergenerational interview project that will culminate in a collaborative "Story Tree" art installation to display the answers to the interview questions.

LitWorld is happy to partner with the Hebrew Home and Broadway Housing Communities to bring joyful learning and intergenerational experiences to residents and campers. This innovative approach to summer learning builds off of LitWorld’s signature LitCamp program to prevent the “summer slide”--a fallback in students’ academic achievement over the summer break.

Learn more about LitCamps happening across the country and all over the world in our recent post, "Reinventing Summer School with LitCamp."

Reinventing Summer School with LitCamp

Photo: Scholastic

Photo: Scholastic

The LitCamp movement is extraordinary and growing every day. Alongside partners all over the world, we have reinvented summer school. Gone is the notion of remediation and marginalization and instead every child is a super hero in reading. Families are reporting that kids want to read when they go home--they are counting down the days till next summer.

Teachers are, of course, being incredibly inventive and creating a "camp" theme in their classrooms with tents, campfires, props, and costumes!

In partnership with Scholastic, LitCamp has proven to be a sustainable force for good in classrooms, incorporating best practices for social-emotional development and elements of play to encourage children to fall in love with reading.  

The magic of LitCamp is spreading like wildfire--we've more than doubled the reach of 2016 and have reached over 135,000 kids across the U.S. You don't have to take our word for it. Check out the links below to see the teachers, parents, and school officials who agree!

My experience with the students in the LitCamp program has been extraordinarily positive. It has been a joy to see the students embrace reading with such vigor and enjoy it wholeheartedly!
— Kathleen Horgan, English Teacher at Southbridge Public Schools