Each year as the school year opens, we begin as a community of readers. A few years ago, we borrowed an idea from Beverly High School to implement Literature Circles. Throughout the school year, teachers and students recommend books to our librarian, who then selects a variety of books for summer reading for students and faculty.
In September, we gather for two consecutive days in Literature Circles, grouped not by grade or arts major, but by the books we read. Last year, we piloted Literature Circles co-lead by a teacher and a student, and it was so successful that the number of students who volunteered doubled this year.
All Literature Circles involve talking about books- where we as readers connected to plot, character, events, etc. Each faculty member leads the group a little differently, but it is amazing to walk around the school, look into any room, and see everyone doing the same thing at the same time: discussing, analyzing, and connecting to literature.
Some books are graphic novels; others, non-fiction; others, long poems. The important part is that we are building community and excitement (among students AND among teachers!) as we talk about books, sometimes wearing down the tough shell that some students have about reading. We want all our students and faculty to feel the freedom of reading for pleasure and sharing that joy with others.
I am interested to hear how other schools think about literacy and/or building community, perhaps through a different kind of whole-school initiative. What summer reading books have been successful at your school?