Let’s face it: today’s kids are surrounded by influences that aren’t always good, and aren’t always avoidable. As parents and teachers we try to counter the trend toward small screens, small minds, small viewpoints, and small solutions. At LitWits, we do that by introducing kids to powerful, positive influences: great characters in great books.
Great characters teach kids to be great people. Resilient, courageous, and kind. Best of all, they show kids how it’s done.
Great characters model ways to learn and grow. Though they fail, they keep on trying. They display creativity, can-do, resourcefulness and clever problem-solving. They figure things out, and also learn when to ask for help. Sometimes they have to swallow their pride and apologize. Sometimes they have to summon up courage and take a stand. They gain fortitude. Compassion. Grit. Coping skills. All those Ted-talk attributes we want our children to have.
Fictional mentors can be influential for life.
So we’re pretty choosy about which books we’ll “LitWit,” and most of them (just like our wisest friends) are pretty darn old. We know from experience that antique protagonists like Johnny Tremain, Wilbur, Sara Crewe, and the Cowardly Lion make excellent modern mentors. There’s something in the stuck-up silversmith, anxious runt pig, bullied rich orphan, and big scaredy-cat that kids recognize in themselves.
Of course we admire the fine writing in old books, and welcome its powerful influence on academic skills. And we love an adventurous and/or heartwarming plot. But our main focus is on the adventure in the heart of the protagonist—his or her personal growth. We want kids to see themselves, and their own potential.
Great characters help kids see who they are, and what they’re capable of.
Great characters are people and creatures in process, who grow until they can give. Who overcome flaws and obstacles to be of service to others. Who offer an antidote to me-firstness, a counter to the win-at-all-costs mentality. Who show kids, without teaching or preaching, how to honor their values and reach their potential.
That’s why we LitWit.
We want to encourage kids to spend more time in great books with great characters, and much less time on small screens. So once we’ve carefully chosen our classic and vintage influencers, we pull out all the stops to make them a joy for young readers. We create “what they did in the book” projects, scramble through barns and attics for props, and write worksheets that help lessons stick. We come up with activities to engage kids’ hands, hearts, and minds. Our goal is to inspire kids to read more great books!
Because kids who read more great books turn into great people.