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LitWits helps teachers make great books real

unique activities, craft ideas, teaching points, printables & learning links

Get stories off the page in real-life ways
that help kids understand — and want to read more!

Preview a LitWits Kit!

LitWits Kits

Experiential lesson-planning tools

LitWits Kits are web pages packed with great stuff—everything listed below! (Each kit includes a PDF version for easy printing, too.) At checkout, you’ll create an account that gives you instant access.

  • sensory prop ideas:  see, hear, smell, and feel what the characters did
  • bookbites ideas: taste what the characters ate
  • creative project ideas & instructions: make what a character made
  • kinetic activity ideas & instructions: do what a character did (or might/should have!)
  • academic handouts: learn the story’s narrative arc, vocabulary, setting, and more
  • creative writing handouts: write what a character wrote or felt
  • takeaway topics: know what the characters knew
  • learning links: learn more about what the characters’ world was like
  • audiovisual links: see and hear what the characters’ world looked and sounded like
  • CCSS alignment: check off lots of boxes!

Want to see what that looks like?  Here’s a whole LitWits Kit.

What makes LitWits Kits special?

LitWits Kits hold the unique ideas and materials we created for our experiential workshops , held in Santa Cruz since 2010. Our immersive, meaningful approach to books has been kid-tested for years. We know what a difference it makes, especially for reluctant readers. (Scroll down to learn how and why it works; click here for a glimpse of the fun.) We want to share what we have with you and your kids!

We also want to save you time and stress. LitWits Kits are instant, cohesive resources. You can stop surfing and patching together your lesson plans!

How do I use LitWits Kits in my home or classroom?

Just pull the parts that work for you and your kids! Even in a single activity or BookBites snack, we’ve given you lots to talk about.  (Don’t feel you have to hold a half-day workshop like we did — good grief, who has time for that? That’s why homeschool parents in Santa Cruz have been sending their kids to us since 2010!)

More questions? Check out our FAQ, or get in touch with us.

We didn't just make faces - we learned about dodecahedrons, the etymology of the word, and the nuanced power of nonverbal expression! Thank you Norton Juster!
Making faces (12!), while learning some geometry, the Greek etymology of "dodecahedron," and the nuanced power of nonverbal expression! From the LitWits experience of THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH
Visit our store to see all the books we've ``done!``

It’s amazing how much kids learn while they’re “just” having fun.  Scroll down to read how and why!

We hold experiential workshops for kids in Santa Cruz.
Then we turn those workshops into online LitWits Kits.

HOW and WHY

Experience IS comprehension! When kids taste, touch, hear, and smell a story, it gets up off the page and becomes more real to them. They get it.

Participating in characters’ experiences, handling interesting items, listening to traditional music, recreating objects, and dining on food from the book are ways of bringing that other world up close. It’s really a way of traveling through time!

When kids experience a story firsthand, it’s easier for them to relate to the characters, and understand the impact of time and place. And that helps them see the dynamic, creative impact of their own setting on their own character, too.

Decoding runes, from the LitWits experience of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH
From the LitWits Kit for ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS by Scott O'Dell - LitWits Workshops
Taking on Karana's fashion skills, from the LitWits experience of ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS

When we play games and do puzzles or skits that lead us to deeper meanings within a story, we help kids learn discernment and develop their intuition.

There’s so much more to a great book than meets the eye, and discovering its symbols is like finding clues to a treasure — that is, the theme and its universal truths.

Figuring out what an author was really trying to say develops critical thinking skills. There’s lifelong value in the ability to notice patterns, connect meanings, read between the lines, and decipher underlying messages.

When we bring cultural allusions into three dimensions through art, music, props, and other tactile experiences, we help children understand that literature lets them in on the references made by adults — and they’ll want to read more because they enjoy the feeling of being well-read. No one likes to feel left out!

Making these allusions understandable and memorable through sensory involvement is a great way to help kids feel included in society. It builds confidence to “get it” – to be in on the joke, the allusion, the quotation.

And when they comprehend that literature is a prime source of these references, they’re more motivated to read enduring, enriching books.

The LitWits Kit for SUMMER OF THE MONKEYS by Wilson Rawls - LitWits Workshops
Trapping monkeys and learning about motivations, from the LitWits experience of SUMMER OF THE MONKEYS
The LitWits Kit for PINOCCHIO by Carlo Collodi - LitWits Workshops
Writing Lampwick's last words; thematic "pears of ingratitude" and an "undeveloped puppet," from the LitWits experience of PINOCCHIO

When we help kids visualize and “touch” the author’s world, they understand why he or she felt certain ways about certain things that show up in the book. Getting under the author’s skin and grasping the idea of influence is key to developing critical thinking skills – and, someday, to writing thesis papers.

When we use sensory “clues” to help kids spot connections between the author’s life and book, they see that a book represents a real person. It’s a level of awareness they’ll draw on as they develop their own power to impart their beliefs on a page.

When we engage kids in activities and projects that help them see the way a story is plotted, they have an easier time understanding what’s happening and why — which helps them intuitively plan their own story writing, too.

When kids artistically enhance a scene or recreate an important item, it helps them really see and feel it in three dimensions.

Experiencing literature allows kids to absorb its subtle lessons naturally. Because books, after all, are not about words but experiences of action and being. By joining the characters in their experiences, kids connect with great books — and want to read more.

And we know that when kids read for fun, they learn for life. What they learn depends on what they’re reading.

That’s why we make great books fun!

The LitWits Kit for BLUE WILLOW by Doris Gates - LitWits Workshops
A reminder of home, from the LitWits experience of BLUE WILLOW
We hold experiential workshops for Santa Cruz kids.
Then we turn those workshops into online LitWits Kits.

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