By now, the fifth post in this homeschool series, you’ve probably gleaned that I hold a rather holistic view of education. I love incorporating all the senses into any and all subjects possible. Author Ali Dent has created an incredible tool for doing just that with literature.
If I were a homeschool … I would absolutely employ LitClub.
(Who am I kidding? I’ll probably do it even though my kids attend public school!)
Ali Dent is a veteran homeschooler, a former missionary and a mother of four. She started the first LitClub as a way to help her dyslexic daughter achieve her literature credits for high school. In the decade since then, LitClub has blossomed in a huge success. It has grown from one mom’s idea and a couple kids in her living room to multiple clubs run by parents in various states across the country.
Using the LitClub model she developed, Ali still teaches classical literature to 7-18 year-olds in her home. Her passion is contagious as she shares her wisdom and experience with other parents who want to help their kids fall in love with story.
I am delighted to host her here on the blog today.
Ali, your book, The LITClub, releases today. Congratulations! Can you tell us what makes LitClub unique from other book clubs or literature programs?
Traditional book clubs read a book, discuss it and maybe share some food.
The LITClub includes all of those things revised into a new model that transforms reading into an experience. LITClub invites members to attend as a family (parents and kids). Together they read classics, share a themed meal, enjoy a book conversation, and create and present related projects that mature critical thinking skills. Some engage vocabulary lists and Focus Papers that enable members to dive deeper into the stories, embrace literary terminology and expand reading and comprehension skills.
The sum of the parts makes LITClub stand apart from any average book club.
What has surprised you most in all your years of doing LITClub?
My first surprise was that people actually wanted to read the classics in a group. I was later surprised by how MANY families wanted to participate.
I was surprised that I, a non-literature person, could actually facilitate conversations about books.
The best surprise was the way LITClub changes the lives of its members, moms and kids alike. A common report from mothers is that they didn’t expect the club to build a connection between herself and her child. Since they attend the club together it gives them something in common. A natural flow of conversation exists between two people who have something in common. It’s like that with LITMoms and LITkids. This aspect is true for moms who read the books with their kids and those who do not. An aspect that surprises moms is that their children who formerly dreaded the idea of reading books began asking for books and looking forward to reading.
That alone indicates success! Which book experience has been your favorite?
Tanya, that’s a tough question to answer! I have favorite stories for each of the elements in the LITClub experience and could probably go on for a while about that.
Are there any books you’ve not yet done that you want to?
There are a couple of books on the reading list for this year that I haven’t shared with a LITClub before: Frankenstein and Jane Eyre. I like the surprise effect of sharing a new book with a group. I would also like to share The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas in a LITClub sometime in the future.
The benefits for homeschooling families are obvious. How might others (non-homeschoolers) benefit from LitClub?
LITClub works its magic, transforms reading into an experience regardless of the educational choices of the families.
If I were starting a club for children who attend school outside of the home, I would choose to have the meeting on an evening that is convenient for the families, maybe a Friday night. I envision a teacher in a school starting a club outside of school as a means to increase the amount of fiction the kids are exposed to or even a club that meets during an after school program. The format of the book allows a lot of room to make adjustments and personalize the model to suit almost any situation.
After hearing about the layout of the book and the elements included in the book, an educational administrator suggested to me that teachers in the classroom could use the LITClub materials as her literature curriculum. She said the ease of use and the pre-planned lessons and conversation guides would appeal to a busy teacher who wants to teach more literature but has little time to instigate a new program.
What do you think is the most valuable element in your book?
I believe moms will value its ease of use the most. It’s a point and click process. The book is divided into three parts.
- Part I shows you the framework that makes LITClub strong and successful.
- Part II defines the tools and is full of details about the principles under-girding each of the six tools that make up the LITClub experience. It is packed with explanations for each tool. Don’t let that overwhelm you and throw you off because
- Part III implements Part II for you. It provides you with a ready made experience including four books with everything you need to enjoy them with your club.
All you have to do is find some friends and get started.
How many families do you need to get started? What do you think is the right size for LITClub?
To start a club you only need one other interested parent and her child. Two is even better. When word gets out about the club there will be many requests to join. Therefore, each club ought to decide ahead of time the desired group size.
I love this idea, but I worry about the time commitment. How much time do you spend each month planning and preparing for LitClub?
The amount of time I spend is very different from what the average LITClub facilitator who has The LITClub in hand will spend.
When I sit down to do my planning for one book I make decisions about:
- book choice
- types of devices that would be appropriate to study for this particular book
- the kind of project that would allows the kids to think critically and have fun topics and ideas that will generate lively discussion for the book conversation
- vocabulary words- per book-40-60 for younger kids and 80-100 for high schoolers.
If a mother wants to do all the work herself without the LITClub tools she will spend 8, 16 or even 20 hours per month preparing for the meeting. That’s a lot! BUT…
With The LITClub book in hand, all the pieces have been boiled down into an easy to use, step-by-step model that provides the depth necessary to obtain the rich benefits for the kids without the facilitator sacrificing a great deal of time.
How much time would a typical parent, armed with your LITClub Kits need to spend each month to prepare?
The mom who uses the pre-planned lessons and book conversation guides can expect to spend an hour or less preparing for the lesson and conversation, plus her reading time.
Your book provides four fully-loaded LITClub Kits, one for each of the four time periods tackled in Classical Education. Will readers eventually be able to get more kits?
Yes. This first book is a handbook for the club model and it includes four fully loaded kits so that moms can get their clubs up and going.
The next book will include 9 fully loaded kits for the Renaissance Era.
I want to ask when that will be, but maybe we should let you get through this release first. THANK YOU for being with us today!
Learn more on her website: www.AliDent.org.
Check out The LITClub book trailer below, and post any questions you have for Ali in the comments section.
If you’ve missed any of the posts in this week’s “If I Were a Homeschool …” Series, click through to see them all: