Since very early on in the English Literature curriculum, students have been assigned to read the classic book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. While this book contains material that still teaches an important lesson, students at this age aren’t necessarily interested in books set in the 1930s. With this in mind Mrs. Kremnitzer, an English teacher here at Tuscarora High, was “following in the footsteps” of an idea that has started in Nashville, Tennessee: Project Lit. This in-school book club provides students with the opportunity to read books that are more relatable among teenagers nowadays. Books like The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sánchez are offered instead of older books. These choices along with many others to come, are chosen to demonstrate cultural relevance and improve students’ understanding of modern social issues.
Students at Tuscarora have taken to the club very well. Sophomore Cora McDaniel had enthusiasm as she provided us with information, as well as her own opinions on Project Lit. She “immediately fell in love the idea” and believes that FCPS should incorporate newer books into the curriculum “solely to support the idea of trying to understand the people around you” in relation to their possible situations. Realizing that some of the students that go to this school are going through a lot different things, is the first step to being more socially aware. She mentioned that the book 1984 by George Orwell “showcases objectivism” and is fairly “non-relatable” to students. McDaniel lastly brought up the fact that “a lot of books back then don’t contain things we can relate to personally” and that impacts interest level a lot. Using books chosen and previewed by the age group asked to read them could potentially make kids look forward to those reading assignments.
The club meets weekly and there are two different versions to cater to every kind of reading preference. One is very hands on and involved, and the other is a loose, open and ordinarily structured book club. Bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Curious Iguana have helped donate multiple copies of the books recommended by Project Lit. Along with book drives and wish lists, fundraising plans are always in progress to help get teens the opportunity to read the books they would like to.
While the Project Lit community continues to grow substantially across the country, students can get involved right here at THS! Go talk to Mrs. Kremnitzer in Room B219 or check out the Project Lit website located at the bottom of this article.