Summer reading. Two words that can mean joy and indulgence to some, and yet inspire dread or fear in others. When Princeton-Blairstown Center was looking to re-imagine its Leader-in-Training program, one goal was to weave in literacy in a deeper, more organic way, to help kids connect with both texts and with one another. But how?
Enter, the Leader-In-Training (LIT) book club. Whether used in a school setting or in one like PBC’s LIT program, a book club has the advantages of offering a student-centered and social way for students to share and engage around texts they’ve read.
Other benefits of student book clubs are that they:
Considering that community and student reflection are two overarching goals of the LIT Program, the book club model is truly a perfect fit for our setting. Once the decision was made to form a book club, we turned to other questions, such as:
- What would participants read? How would the book be selected?
- Who would lead conversations around the text?
Eventually, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give was selected for its popularity among students, literary appeal, and social commentary themes; And thanks to a generous book donation from one of our partners, we had enough copies available in the Peyton Library to get started.
The benefits of regular reading are much deeper than just enhanced comprehension, vocabulary, and language fluency, though.
“Broad and deep reading habits can sharpen intelligence, make you a better communicator, and improve emotional intelligence, among other benefits,” says John Coleman in this Harvard Business Review article. A separate article by Coleman is entitled: “For those who want to lead, read”. While that headline basically says it all; but the research and anecdotal evidence that backs up the lead is truly remarkable. Regular readers tend to be better communicators, and better writers, too. Avid readers also typically have a wider understanding of a variety of subjects, and often can better empathize and see things from others’ points of view.
All these skills are essential for effective and well-rounded leaders, and we are happy that the LIT book club (a construct that is perhaps older than printing itself!) is another tool available to us to build both stronger readers and stronger leaders.