Junior Great Books Sparks Creativity and Communication

Felicia Messina-D’Haiti, the Manager of Academic Enrichment Programs for Washington, D.C. Public Schools, believes Junior Great Books® programs to be the “jumping off point” for students’ creativity. Messina-D’Haiti began teaching in DCPS in 2012, which is when she was first introduced to Junior Great Books and the Shared Inquiry™ method of teaching and learning.

Junior Great Books in Park Forest–Chicago Heights, Illinois

Danielle Gladstone, instructional coach at Park Forest-Chicago Heights School District 163, has been in education for 25 years. She holds a master’s in education administration and reading. She has dedicated many years to gifted education and won Economic Educator of the Year in 2016. Danielle was introduced to Junior GreatContinue reading

Celebrate April by Investigating Poetry Lesson Plans for Different Grade Levels

We have gathered a variety of lesson plans suitable for different grade levels to help you explore poetry with your students during Poetry Month. Each set of lesson plans has the full text of the poem or links to a reading or transcript, as well as Shared Inquiry™ activities appropriateContinue reading

Shared Inquiry Provides a Common Language for Immersion Schools in Louisiana

For Dr. Laura Adelman-Cannon, principal of the International School of Louisiana’s Uptown Campus in New Orleans (ISL), Junior Great Books® and the Shared Inquiry™ method of learning teach children how to have meaningful and respectful conversations not only in school, but everywhere they go. According to Dr. Adelman-Cannon, “Junior GreatContinue reading

Shared Inquiry Fosters Community and Collaboration

Junior Great Books launches “beautiful journey” in Washington, DC Steven Berry, a second-grade teacher at Van Ness Elementary School in Washington, DC, just began using Junior Great Books® and the Shared Inquiry™ method of teaching in November 2023. The community that has been fostered through this new methodology has ignitedContinue reading

Representation Matters for Young Students

Junior Great Books showcases the capabilities and dreams of girls Representation matters for young students—especially for our youngest readers so they can see that being a girl or woman in today’s world is not limiting. In the following article from Edutopia, the writer provides tangible steps to ensure Gender EquityContinue reading

Helping Students Grow as Thinkers and Readers

In January 2023, Hamilton Southeastern School District in Fishers, Indiana, drastically ramped up their Junior Great Books® program to include thousands of K–6 students across 13 elementary schools and 4 intermediate schools. Previously, the program had only been used for gifted students, but Erin Mohr, the high-ability coordinator for theContinue reading

Shared Inquiry Curriculum for Black History Month

February is Black History Month. As an educator, it’s important to shine the spotlight brightly in February, and it’s equally critical to continue to keep that light on throughout the year. To that end, it’s important to continue to think and talk about race and ethnicity in your classroom, school,Continue reading

Using Read-Alouds to Boost Inquiry

Reading texts aloud to your students—no matter what their age or independent reading level—is a great way to intensify inquiry-centered learning. It’s also highly enjoyable! Abundant research1 has shown that reading aloud to students builds their vocabularies, provides a model of fluent reading, and meets the needs of auditory learners.Continue reading

Why should educators take Great Books Shared Inquiry training?

Self-Care and Professional Growth Great Books Shared Inquiry™ training creates a shift that helps educators reimagine teaching and learning. When combined with passion and purposefulness, professional development helps you grow as an educator. Think of it as educators’ self-care. Developing your skills helps you every day in the classroom andContinue reading

Custom On-Site or Online Consultations

All Great Books professional development helps educators learn, practice, and continuously improve their use of the Shared Inquiry™ method. Our custom coaching consultations give teachers the personalized, specific feedback they need to apply what they have learned from our Shared Inquiry training to become more proficient in inquiry-based teaching skills.Continue reading

How Do We Find Such Great Readings?

We here at the Great Books Foundation are often asked how we select our texts for our student anthologies, and the answer is complicated, or at least multi-faceted. There are practical restraints around what texts work for our program: they have to be short enough that they can be readContinue reading

Back to School: Emphasizing Community for a Thriving Learning Environment

A welcoming and supportive community is at the heart of a thriving learning environment. As a new school year begins, feelings of anticipation, excitement, and worry can abound. The educator’s role isn’t strictly about preparing the classroom environment and developing the curriculum, it’s also about cultivating relationships and fostering aContinue reading

How Can We Fight Censorship?

Earlier this year, the American Library Association (ALA) reported that the number of book challenges, unique titles put forth for book bans/censorship, nearly doubled in 2022 compared to 2021. In 2021, the number of challenges reported was 729, and in 2022, it rose to an unparalleled number of 1,269.1 BookContinue reading

Using Junior Great Books to Support Diverse Learners

Children with disabilities, complex learning needs, and challenging behaviors deserve to participate meaningfully in their world. What better way for this to start than in the classroom at the youngest grade levels? The flexible activities of the Shared Inquiry™ method naturally differentiate instruction. The outstanding complex texts in Junior Great Books® support meaningful discussions

The Role of Art in a Troubled World

Great Books recently concluded our 75th-anniversary adult discussion group. Our group had the pleasure of delving into the role of art in a troubled world by discussing the following works: “To a Locomotive in Winter” by Walt Whitman, “The Unknown Masterpiece” by Honoré de Balzac, The Federalist Papers, no. 10 by James Madison, “The Daughters of the Late Colonel” by Katherine Mansfield, “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Five Reasons to Get Caught Reading—for Fun!

May is Get Caught Reading Month, a time for bibliophiles to celebrate their love of all things reading. It is also a time to raise awareness about the advantages of indulging in literature—reading for pleasure and not just for work or school. Here are some reasons why reading what youContinue reading

Five Ways to Use Shared Inquiry to Support Mental Health Awareness

Schools and districts strive to be proactive and engage in activities promoting and supporting mental health awareness. Academic stress, peer pressure, and social media can impact students’ and teachers’ mental health. All of us are facing increasing stress, anxiety, and other mental health challenges, so it is essential to haveContinue reading

Shared Inquiry and Earth Day

What does Shared Inquiry™ have to do with Earth Day or climate change? You might wonder. That is, you might, unless you were familiar with the transformative power of curiosity and collaboration to engage people of all ages in gaining deeper understanding of complex problems.

Free Lesson Plans for Earth Month 2023

April is Earth Month, a great time to delve into rich content about environmental themes. That’s why we are offering four free science lesson plans from Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry, spanning grades 2–5, that you can download directly from this page. Each lesson plan has a complete set ofContinue reading

Shared Inquiry Curriculum for Women’s History Month

In March, we celebrate Women’s History Month and the invaluable contributions of women and girls over time and around the world. According to the National Women’s History Alliance, 2023’s theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” with the aim to “encourage recognition of women, past and present, who haveContinue reading

How Great Books Professional Development Aligns with Knowles’s Knowledge

In part 1 of this series, we explored how the professional development designed by the Great Books Foundation incorporates adult learning principles and practices with a focus on Jean Piaget. Specifically, we looked at Schema Theory, assimilation and accommodation, and equilibrium and disequilibrium. In this installment, we will look atContinue reading

Authors to Share During Black History Month and All-Year-Round!

Black History Month is an opportunity to share the voices of Black writers, illustrators, and thinkers within your community—whether your group is a school, a library, or even your own family. We have many options, found on our website, for texts that classrooms from K–12 can use that speak toContinue reading

Shared Inquiry Curriculum for Black History Month

February is Black History Month. As an educator, it’s important to shine the spotlight brightly in February, and it’s equally critical to continue to keep that light on throughout the year. Below are some recommendations for how to use Junior Great Books® and our Shared Inquiry™ methodology in your classroom.Continue reading

What Makes a Good Reader? It’s Complicated

When it comes to “essential questions” asked by educators and families, here’s one that is surely high on the list: What practices most help all students flourish as readers, thinkers, and communicators?  Teachers, schools, and districts rightly devote much time and many resources to teaching students to read because, moreContinue reading

Using Junior Great Books to Meet the NAEP Reading Assessment Goals for 2024

According to the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), “The ability to read critically and analytically is crucial for effective participation in America’s democratic society” (xiii). We can help your students with this goal of the NAGB and succeed in what the assessment measures. The Great Books Foundation is a 75-year-oldContinue reading

How Great Books Professional Development Aligns with Piaget’s Principles

The professional development delivered by authorized Great Books trainers has been carefully designed with the needs of adult learners at the forefront of development, design, and delivery. This is the first in a series of articles that will explore how different adult learning principles are addressed in the professional developmentContinue reading

75 Years of Great Conversations

The Great Books Foundation began in 1947 with a mission to promote lifelong education through the reading and discussion of outstanding literature. Today, we’ve extended that mission to people of all ages, and we promote the discussion of ideas expressed not only through literature, but in artwork and media ofContinue reading

Four Habits of Mind That Cross the Curriculum and Last a Lifetime

Experienced educators know that genuine student success requires more than just learning how to read. If students are to become lifelong learners who seek out new information and collaborate on creative solutions, they need to internalize ways of working that enable them to approach diverse subjects and situations confidently. TheContinue reading

Teaching Respect: How To Celebrate Different Cultures and Ethnicities in Your Classroom

This article was originally posted on September 13, 2022 on Planbook. Please read the segment below to read a quote from Great Books Senior Academic Consultant Denise Ahlquist. Read the full article here. Today’s classroom is increasingly diverse. In addition to having varied home lives, learning styles and emotional needs,Continue reading

How You Can Integrate Academic Development and Social Emotional Learning

Social emotional learning (SEL) in education is a phrase that has been known to elicit eye rolls. One reason for those exasperated responses is that it feels like yet another concept and practice for which schools are responsible at a point when there isn’t extra time for planning or implementation.Continue reading

Junior Great Books in Orangeburg, South Carolina

Recently we connected with Priscilla Hollington, coordinator of Gifted and Talented Education and Magnet Academies for Orangeburg, South Carolina, County School District. Ms. Hollington helped bring Junior Great Books® to three independent school districts as they merged to become the new consolidated Orangeburg district, providing introductory Shared Inquiry™ training forContinue reading

Shared Inquiry Educators Share Their Expertise with You!

Lisa Pagano, Jennifer Flannery We recently spoke with Lisa Pagano and Jennifer Flannery in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), part of a thriving Junior Great Books implementation. Pagano, the Academically/Intellectually Gifted (AIG) and Talent Development district lead teacher, says that CMS revived their Junior Great Books program in 2019, picking up onContinue reading

Shared Inquiry Method Benefits Students and Teachers

Brienne Cundiff, an educator in Crown Point, Indiana, has 19 years of elementary teaching experience, and has used Junior Great Books® as a classroom teacher with first-, third-, and fourth-grade students. She recently began serving as one of the high ability teachers in her district, the Crown Point Community SchoolContinue reading

Create a Classroom of Active Listeners

Are your students listening, or just waiting to talk? And how hard is it to tell the difference? If you find teaching and assessing active listening skills challenging, you’re far from alone. But it is possible to teach students how to listen more effectively—and doing so deepens learning for everyoneContinue reading

Educators in our community share their expertise with you!

Kathryn Karasek is the iDAL (instructional digital age learning) coach at Arnett C. Lines Elementary School in Barrington Community School District 220 in Barrington, Illinois. She spearheaded a Junior Great Books® implementation by arranging Shared Inquiry training for 33 teachers at the school in November 2021. More than 400 studentsContinue reading

Looking to meet wide-ranging student needs?

Because students have complex and shifting learning needs, it can be challenging to find materials that meet them all. Ensuring that every student has abundant opportunities to build ELA content knowledge, critical thinking, and social-emotional skills usually requires going beyond core curriculum programs. Junior Great Books® provides consistent practice withContinue reading

Educators in our community share their expertise with you!

We are always excited to share with you what we know and are learning about inquiry-based teaching. Now we are also inviting educators to highlight their Shared Inquiry™ classroom strategies and pass on their practical experiences. Recently we asked Dennis Forde, assistant principal at PS 6 in Staten Island, NewContinue reading

Join Us to Discuss Amanda Gorman’s “New Day’s Lyric”

Come together with fellow educators on February 23 at 3:00 p.m. central time to discuss Amanda Gorman’s newly released poem, “New Day’s Lyric.” Experience the excitement of collaborative discussion just like Junior Great Books® students do! A seasoned Great Books trainer will lead your Shared Inquiry™ discussion, asking thought-provoking questionsContinue reading

Building Confidence and Skills for English Language Learners

Teachers who engage students in the Shared Inquiry™ activities we have created for all Junior Great Books® programs can help English language learners gain the confidence they need to work in English. ELL students typically have greater ability in receptive skills, such as listening and reading, while struggling with productiveContinue reading

Five Tips for Fostering Happy Holiday Conversations

We’ve all experienced some awkward holiday conversations. Many people will be gathering in person this year for the first time in quite a while, so you might be navigating some challenging relationships—like talking to the cousin you rarely see and don’t have much in common with, or the uncle whoContinue reading

Four Ways to Create a Climate of Inquiry at Home

Shared Inquiry™ empowers teachers to use interpretive, evaluative, and factual questions to help students dig deeper into whatever they are reading so they can express themselves, listen to others, and synthesize new ideas from the input they receive. Parents and caregivers can reinforce the Shared Inquiry mindset their students areContinue reading

Help Reluctant Students Speak Up

Try these seven tips to make your classroom more inclusive. Every teacher has experienced it: during discussion, some students hang back and avoid speaking. It’s clear that increasing participation helps everyone learn more, but how can that be achieved without making quieter students feel uncomfortable? The Great Books Foundation hasContinue reading

Six Fundamentals of Building an Inclusive Learning Community

Are you hoping for a better, more equitable future? Are you ready to take steps today that will help your current students? While the topic is complex, clarifying key terms and revisiting these six basics of inclusive learning communities—each coupled with specific inquiry-based learning practices—can turn our aspirations into opportunities,Continue reading

Four Habits of Mind That Cross the Curriculum and Last a Lifetime

Experienced educators know that genuine student success requires more than just learning how to read. If students are to become lifelong learners who seek out new information and collaborate on creative solutions, they need to internalize ways of working that enable them to approach diverse subjects and situations confidently. TheContinue reading

Five Ways to Improve Speaking and Listening

Engagement and Discussion Strategies from the Shared Inquiry™ Toolkit Among the most basic elements of collaboration are speaking and listening skills. Used in every grade and discipline, as well as at home and at work, these skills can be easily overlooked because they’re everyone’s business. However, deliberately cultivating awareness ofContinue reading

Pandemic Relief Funds for Education

The federal government has created a number of funding sources under the CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) and the CRRSA Act (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations, also known as the CARES II Act) so that schools and districts across the country can address pandemic-related disruptions andContinue reading

Listening to Understand: Five Strategies to Try with Students

In this era of sound bites and hot takes, everyone seems to be talking––but who is listening? As a consequence, many students are growing up without experiencing authentic conversations. In this environment, classroom modeling of how to listen and respond to others is increasingly important. At the Great Books Foundation,Continue reading

Junior Great Books Meets Key ELA Standards

ELA teachers need to help their students reach myriad standards nationwide. Here are 10 key standards that almost all state and district-level documents call for educators to address. Students who participate in Junior Great Books® develop these key skills that are critical not only in English language arts but across the curriculum.

Elyria City School District

Junior Great Books Shared Inquiry process gives all students a chance to make their voices heard Amy Keir with a favorite book Amy Keir, K–12 teaching and learning coordinator for the Elyria City School District in Elyria, Ohio, greatly expanded the use of Junior Great Books® in her district inContinue reading

All Students Can Learn to Use Text Evidence

Here are 12 teacher- and expert-tested strategies! On the day I visited Brienne Cundiff’s first-grade classroom at Winfield Elementary School in Crown Point, Indiana, her students were working with the Junior Great Books® story “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts. They were deeply engaged in this tale of a boy namedContinue reading

Charles County, Maryland

Using Shared Inquiry and Junior Great Books for Fiction and Nonfiction at All Levels Great Books trainer Michael Elsey recently met over Zoom with two experienced educators at Charles County Public Schools in Maryland: Ann Taylor, content specialist for gifted and differentiated services, and Kristen Modes, instructional specialist in giftedContinue reading

Provocative Poems on Authorship

Love, art, science, fidelity, authorship, gender—these are some of the big issues that a stalwart group of readers known as the B.S. Great Books Group (of Greater Chicagoland) has been exploring via Shared Inquiry discussions of the selections in the Great Books anthology Counterparts, where two texts on a topicContinue reading

New Discussion Series Exclusively for Educators

Please join us for the inaugural event in our new Shared Inquiry™ discussion series as we read and talk about Eve L. Ewing’s moving poem “At work with my father” from Junior Great Books® Series 6. Along with fellow educators, you can read and enjoy the poem, share your opinionsContinue reading

Five Essentials for Fostering More Inclusive Learning

Intentionally creating inclusive learning communities takes time and careful planning. These key elements of the Shared Inquiry™ method and Junior Great Books® build transferable lifelong learning skills: Listening Welcoming students’ questions, interests, and needs Sustained interaction Interpretive focus Wonderful, rich texts and objects of inquiry The more you and yourContinue reading

Great Books Chicago Online 2021

Participants drove the success of this first-ever online event! We held Great Books Chicago: Exploring Beauty online the weekend of February 26–28, 2021, and reviews were overwhelmingly positive. As participant Karen Hough said: Great Books Chicago is such a unique experience. I participate in many other classes and groups. NothingContinue reading

Leading the Fight for a More Equitable Society

Use the lesson plan below to talk about what Eleanor Roosevelt did and why! Weathering challenging times is nothing new for the United States. At the Great Books Foundation, we believe that it is important to help students read and discuss fiction and nonfiction texts that highlight constructive responses toContinue reading

Becoming Francisco X. Alarcón

At a time of such deep division, how can teachers help students reflect on their unique cultural identities and their participation in the larger American story? Rather than seeing individual identity and communal engagement as mutually exclusive, we at the Great Books Foundation believe that exploring diverse texts enables all students to learn about themselves

Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” Makes Space for Our Own Light

Watch Amanda Gorman read “The Hill We Climb,” then join us for a free Shared Inquiry discussion of the poem. Amanda Gorman’s poem for the Biden inauguration, “The Hill We Climb,” was addressed to “Americans and the world.” We at the Great Books Foundation, who seek to use literature asContinue reading

Getting Comfortable Having Uncomfortable Conversations

As the United States continues to confront and grapple with our complex legacies of systemic racism and widespread inequity, engaging in perhaps uncomfortable civil discussions with one another on truly tough questions is essential. To live up to the promises of our founding principles and to honor the sacrifices

Happy New Year from the Great Books Foundation!

The past year has been a challenge for all of us. We have had to get used to Zoom calls, adapt to learning online, and keep socially distanced as we try to maintain the ties that bind us together.

Despite these challenges, the Great Books Foundation has continued its mission

Five Tips for Fostering Civil Holiday Conversations

We’ve all experienced some awkward holiday conversations. Whether you’re meeting online or in person this holiday season, you might be navigating some challenging relationships—like talking to the cousin you rarely see and don’t have much in common with, or the aunt who can’t stop pushing political views you don’t share.Continue reading

Why Shared Inquiry Matters Now More Than Ever

How optimistic about the future are you? Are you confident that we humans can work together to solve the immense political, social, environmental, and economic problems we face? Shared Inquiry matters now more than ever. When the problems around us are so daunting, it’s tempting to become overwhelmed or nostalgicContinue reading

2020 Nobel Prize Winners Featured in GBF Books!

As you may have heard (or read), the 2020 Nobel Prize was awarded earlier this month, and we are thrilled that two of the winners have writings in recent Great Books Foundation anthologies! Louise Glück won the Nobel Prize in Literature “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beautyContinue reading

How to Improve Your Online Book Group Meetings

Getting together with an online book group to talk about what we’re reading is helping a lot of us cope with this disquieting time. Connecting with friends and to literary works that inspire, challenge, and entertain us can remind us of what really matters and lasts. But while the mechanicsContinue reading

Five Simple Reading Comprehension Strategies

Building students’ reading comprehension skills doesn’t just improve their academic achievement—it also increases their motivation to read for enjoyment. Try these reading comprehension strategies to help students learn to monitor and enhance their understanding of whatever they read. Form a connection. Before reading, ask a question to activate students’ backgroundContinue reading

Reading Aloud for All Ages

A close friend of mine recently shared that he and his wife take turns choosing a book and reading aloud to one other, and that got me thinking about how the shared experience of reading a story aloud formed lasting connections within my own family. While he rarely came andContinue reading

Build a Solid Foundation for Social and Emotional Learning

The Great Books Foundation uses the Shared Inquiry method to develop critical thinking skills and social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies in grades K–12. Since the pandemic has forced education to take place largely from home, we have created the Junior Great Books Virtual Academy™, which enables students to connectContinue reading

The Power of Student Questions to Drive Inquiry-Based Learning

One of the keys to engaging students in a challenging learning activity is to pique their interest and curiosity from the start. When using Shared Inquiry with a complex text, teachers can accomplish this through two specific inquiry-based learning activities. The first is a prereading activity, during which students exploreContinue reading

Junior Great Books and the Shared Inquiry Method for All Students

Although at the time I did not know it was going to change my life, my first encounter with the Great Books Foundation was through my daughter, who was then in kindergarten. One day, she couldn’t stop talking about a folktale her class had discussed that afternoon and how “theContinue reading

Learning to Have Collaborative Online Discussions, Part 3

Junior Great Books Virtual Academy Reflecting on the 2020 school shutdowns and the challenges of learning during a pandemic, one of the top problems a recent survey identified was that students miss collaboration and peer-to-peer interaction: “Many students shared that they missed collaborating with their peers and teachers—both for socializationContinue reading

Engaging Quiet Students in Shared Inquiry Discussion

For those of us at the Great Books Foundation who have had the privilege of being invited into classrooms to conduct Shared Inquiry discussions with students of all ages, one of the most rewarding comments we get from teachers is, “I was surprised by how many of my quiet studentsContinue reading

Learning to Have Collaborative Online Discussions, Part 2

Learners engage in online discussions for a variety of different purposes. Discussion can be used as a warm-up before another learning activity to assess prior knowledge of a subject, for example. Or there may be a brief Q and A session at the end of a presentation that turns intoContinue reading

Strategies for Managing Talkative Students

Anyone who has led a student discussion has experienced it: the talkative student who does not listen well. The talkative student may interrupt others or may simply make comments that are not linked in any way to what has been said previously. Managing talkative students by moving students from passiveContinue reading

Learning to Have Collaborative Online Discussions

When we think about students learning how to use new technologies to have collaborative online discussions, I strongly believe the key word still needs to be learning—and I don’t just mean learning the technical details of one videoconferencing tool or another. Even before educators had to do the great pivot,Continue reading

How to Create a Positive Work Environment Without Asking, “How Are You?”

Whether I’m working with students or adults, my reflexive question has always been some variation on “How are you?,” which at this moment is a loaded question and one I try my best to avoid. I still want to greet people at the start of a conversation, so I cameContinue reading

Why We Must Release Control to Empower Students

When I was first training for the Great Books Foundation, which was many, (gulp) many years ago, I encountered a teacher who at the time had been teaching for more years than I had been alive. She sat with her arms crossed, her lips pursed, and a scowl on herContinue reading

Social and Emotional Learning Warm-Ups in the Remote Learning Space

Social and emotional learning (SEL) begins with the self. It’s the ability to identify our own emotions and manage our own stress, and everyone is exercising those muscles right now. Leading an activity or two that asks your students to focus on identifying their emotions will help them be betterContinue reading

Free Online Discussions for Veterans

Announcing an upcoming series of four free online discussions for veterans! I am so excited to continue my work with veterans and their families through our Talking Service program. This program has given me the great honor of facilitating discussions and training with former veterans, their families, and various stateContinue reading

Three Strategies for Reading Aloud With Preschoolers

In The Read-Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease quotes an old education adage that says, “What we teach children to love and desire will always outweigh what we make them learn.” Try one or more of the following strategies to increase enjoyment and engagement as you and your child read together!

Free Educational Resources

During this unprecedented and uncertain time, we at the Great Books Foundation want to provide as much support as we can to teachers, parents, and administrators who are trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape of our current situation. As a nonprofit educational organization, we are committed to continuing to help educators and parents keep their students engaged and learning.

Join us for a FREE Online Discussion of Metropolis

Now more than ever, we need to get together and enjoy discussing great works of art. Metropolis, Fritz Lang’s towering science fiction landmark, unfolds in a stunningly imagined future in which the populace is divided between the workers, who labor underground, and the rich, who live in a lavish city of splendor.

Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry Meets National Science and Social Studies Standards

Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry for grades 2–5 is bursting with readings about all kinds of things kids find interesting: frogs, hurricanes, inventors, lemonade stands, sneakers, recess . . . so now you can engage your students with enjoyable readings while they work on reading and critical thinking skills! OurContinue reading

Promoting Leadership and Preventing Gun Violence

On November 22–24, four Great Books staff members were proud to represent the Foundation at a workshop on preventing gun violence and promoting leadership opportunities for high school students. Working with the National Youth Art Movement Against Gun Violence, Great Books staff joined nearly 20 professionals and youth leaders inContinue reading

The Holidays Are a Great Time to Help

What does it mean to be part of a community? What’s one thing you could do to make your community a better place? Celebrate kindness this holiday season by reading “Small Acts Make a Big Difference” about kids who volunteer in their communities, and discuss ways students would most wantContinue reading

Great Books Summer Adventure

In April we invited teachers across the country to nominate students in grades 6–12 for one of three scholarships to a one-week Great Books Summer Program at Stanford University, Northwestern University, and Amherst College. The response was amazing! We were flooded with more than 100 essays on how the skills students practiceContinue reading

A Teacher Becomes the Student

I attended Great Books Chicago 2019, and it was a rewarding experience that proved to be an affirmation of my Great Books middle school teaching practice. The participants in the Chicago event experience Great Books as students. There is prerequisite reading (provided by the Foundation), and the Shared Inquiry sessions are thoughtfully formatted. As IContinue reading

Listen Online to Studs Terkel Interviewing Poets

Poets and Poetry as Agents of Change, 1957-1977, a selection of archive interviews available online, has been introduced and curated by Joseph Coulson, former Great Books Foundation president. “Listening to Studs Terkel interview a poet is to realize that the power and music of poetry occupy a special place in the range of Terkel’s intellectualContinue reading

Remembering Bill Siegel

Bill Siegel was a great person. We at the Great Books Foundation are all in shock today. Bill worked with us for 23 years and brought joy and inspiration to us every day. Bill was great with teachers and kids. He was a passionate supporter of close reading and dynamicContinue reading

The Great American Read

As part of PBS’s The Great American Read program, Nancy Carr moderated a panel discussion of four books from the top 100 list on October 20 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Panelists included Donna Seaman, adult books editor at Booklist; Liesl Olson, director of Chicago Studies at the Newberry Library; and Julia Fine,Continue reading

Great American Read

Cast your vote today for America’s favorite novel! Visit wttw.com/read, where you can see the 100 books that made the initial cut for PBS’s The Great American Read and support your choice. You’ll also find plenty of other interactive literary content, including author interviews, quizzes, and book recommendations. And ifContinue reading

Patriotism and Community Action

A few photos from a great event at the Austin -Irving Branch of the Public Library hosted by Tony Powers, the branch manager for CPL Austin-Irving branch and Commander of his Sons of the American Legion Squadron. Michael Elsey had the honor of facilitating a discussion sparked by Mariah Karson’sContinue reading

GBF/Studs Terkel Archive Partnership

The Great Books Foundation is proud to be partnering with the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, the Chicago History Museum, and WFMT, to bring compelling audio to high school students across the country. GBF has developed an innovative high school curriculum based on interviews conducted by Studs Terkel with civil rightsContinue reading

GBF/PBS Free Webinar

On Thursday, May 24, the Great Books Foundation will co-present a free webinar, “Little Women for a New Generation,” with MASTERPIECE on PBS LearningMedia™ and WGBH Education. This interactive session on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel is designed for teachers of sixth grade and higher, and will be held atContinue reading

Great Books Foundation Names Valentina Texera-Parissi New CEO

The Board of Directors of Chicago-based educational nonprofit organization the Great Books Foundation announced today that Valentina Texera-Parissi will succeed Joseph Coulson as Chief Executive Officer. For 20 years, Texera-Parissi has served schools and educational organizations, helping to build ambitious curricular plans and improve learning outcomes. Prior to becoming CEO, Texera-Parissi was Executive Director ofContinue reading

OPINION: Here’s a way teachers can help break down equity barriers in high school

It is harder now for high school students to focus on and make sense of long, complex texts, particularly the underserved students who were already struggling with reading. The 24-hour news and entertainment cycle, cellphones, work schedules and family problems are just a few of the pressures competing for teens’Continue reading

Gainesville Great Books Group

In February 2018, the Great Books Group in Gainesville, Florida, will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Perhaps even more noteworthy than that, we will have met every month for the past 20 years, often more than once a month. Currently we are at 234 months and counting.
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The Amazing Benefits of Video Coaching

Teacher helping a young girl with her reading responseAfter working with teachers and schools for 18 years, I’ve had extensive experience coaching teachers in their classrooms. So it came as somewhat of a surprise to find that video coaching provided me with a whole new set of tools to support teachers—in particular, the ability to watch and review teachers’ videos allowed both of us to reflect more deeply on specific moments of instruction.
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Inquiry-Based Teaching Implemented at Seton Catholic High School

Seton Catholic High School, in Chandler, Arizona is implementing Shared Inquiry to be used in the school’s English Language Arts Classrooms for the coming 2017-2018 school year. Under direction of Principal Victor Serna, and Assistant Principal David Sorkin, the school embarked on training their ELA staff in Junior Great Books, and Shared Inquiry on July 27th. The staff will be providing Inquiry-Based Teaching and Learning through English Literature to their students in Grades 9-12.

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Shared Inquiry Webinars

The Great Books Foundation is offering four webinars this summer that will enhance your skills as a leader in inquiry-based instruction. These webinars will improve your skills in the art of questioning and engage students in thoughtful reflection of what they read. Kindergarten and First Grade teachers may be particularly interested in signing up for Interpretive Thinking for Grades K-1 which dives deep into using our new program for primary grade students.

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A Roundtable Discussion on Illinois Public Education

Evenings@65West, in partnership with Illinois Humanities and The Great Books Foundation, mark the culmination of the year-long, statewide series, “Continuing Ed.” with a roundtable discussion featuring a panel of elected officials, journalists, nonprofit leaders, students, and educators, using a short text by former University of Chicago President Robert Maynard Hutchins

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The Four Steps to Making Poetry Discussions Accessible for Every Student

For students of all ages, discussing poetry can sometimes seem intimidating. Poetry often comes off as more abstract than prose, and students tend to get the impression that it will be more complicated than other types of literature. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. This poetry month

2017 Tampa Bay Great Books Drama Retreat

“Family Matters” With today’s typical family becoming more diverse sociologically and geographically, traditional family gatherings introduce new issues and take on new significance. At the 2017 Tampa Bay Great Books Council’s Drama Retreat, we’ll examine family interactions and confrontations through the recent Tony Award-winning play “The Humans,” by Steven Karam, and the classic “Three Sisters,”Continue reading

20 Read-Aloud Strategies for Grades 4 and Up

Most elementary school teachers read aloud to their students as a matter of course. But the practice is less automatic in the older grades. As children grow more independent with their reading, the temptation is to let them do it on their own. While that is great on some levels

Chicago Schools Using Books to Fight Bullying

Nearly a quarter billion children experience bullying each year, according to UNESCO’s School Violence and Bullying Global Status Report released earlier this year. But some schools across Chicago are using books and discussion to stem the tide of bullying. The Great Books Foundation, a locally based nonprofit reading program, originated 70 years ago at the UniversityContinue reading

Talking Service Update

Talking Service, the Great Books Foundation’s nationwide reading and discussion program for veterans, completed a two-year pilot in December, supported by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. During the pilot, the program was implemented in 14 states at 46 host sites and reached over 500 participants in small discussion groups focusingContinue reading

Explore the Impact of This Great Civil Rights Leader

Black history is American history. But if you, like many educators, would like to call special attention to black history in February, please consider using our lesson plan built around the text of David Dinkins’s “Martin Luther King, Jr.” This selection is in the anthology To Be a Hero, part of the Literature & ThoughtContinue reading

Edith Wharton’s Republic of the Spirit

Edith Wharton’s analysis of American society in The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence couldn’t be more timely. The manners of New York in the Gilded Age have passed away, but the prejudices, hypocrisies, and moral compromises Wharton’s characters exhibit are all too familiar. As an American deeply engaged with the question of howContinue reading

Fiction has significant role in social emotional learning

Researchers describe “theory of mind” as the ability to recognize mental states in others and understand that others have perspectives and desires that are different from one’s own. When classroom assignments develop students’ social emotional skills, they include fostering an ability to regulate one’s own emotions, often in an attempt to communicate or otherwise formContinue reading

Best Books of 2016 Staff Picks

Best Books of 2016 Staff Picks As 2016 draws to a close, A few of The Great Books Foundation staff have chosen a favorite book that they read in 2016. Peter Walton Algorithms to Live By, by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths. I love heuristics as a means to avoid overthinking and save time.  This bookContinue reading

Great Books Tampa Bay January Conference

The nature and manifestations of “madness” will infect the minds of scores of Great Books enthusiasts when the Tampa Bay Great Books Council hosts its 12th Annual Conference at the Hilton St. Petersburg/Bayfront Hotel on January 28-29, 2017! Under the Conference title, “It’s a Mad, Mad World!” attendees will discuss William Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” JosephContinue reading

The Little Fidel in All of Us

Achy Obejas is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ruins and Days of Awe. She was co-editor of The Great Books Foundation’s collection Immigrant Voices.

Creating a better future through great literature

Despite my fondness for teaching, I began to feel an urgent need to move from the classroom to a larger sphere of influence. As a teacher, I had the opportunity to work with perhaps 150 students each academic year. Now, with the Great Books Foundation in the service of the Shared Inquiry method, I haveContinue reading

In Memory of Bill Meiers

We are very sad to learn of the recent and sudden death of Bill Meiers, long-time participant in and former president of the Philadelphia Great Books Council. Many of us at the Foundation got to know Bill during his many visits to Great Books Chicago.

Home Is Where The Art Is

Queer Ricans drew an audience of over 60 including many members of the Puerto Rican community. A highlight of the event was a panel discussion by three students from Roberto Clemente High School about the challenges of being openly gay with family members and fellow students.

Unlocking the Power of Inquiry-Based Learning

The origin of the word “educate,” the Latin word educo, means to bring out or pull from, and develop from within.

Talking about Banned Books Week

Joseph Coulson, President, Great Books Foundation. Here are four books that according to the American Library Association have been banned or challenged in the United States over the last five years: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; The Color Purple by Alice Walker; and Catcher in the Rye byContinue reading

Congratulations 2016 MacArthur Fellows!

We’re especially delighted the MacArthur Foundation honored poet Claudia Rankine for her work “illuminating the emotional and psychic tensions that mark the experiences of many living in twenty-first-century America.” Foundation president Joseph Coulson taught Citizen, her most recent book, at the Great Books Summer Program at Stanford University earlier this year. “Citizen is contemporary literature at itsContinue reading

PBS MASTERPIECE Based on Celebrated Books

We can’t get behind all book to screen adaptations, but we know PBS adaptations are worth watching. We were thrilled to find out that MASTERPIECE on PBS is airing a new 6-part adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s beloved memoir, My Family and Other Animals (and its two sequels). The show, entitled “The Durrells in Corfu,” premieresContinue reading

September Great Books Newsletter

On Great Discussions Our Friends Discuss Our Mutual Friend Last month I spent fifteen hours, spread over five days, leading a group of thirteen people discussing a 151-year-old novel. . . Senior Foundation Editor Nancy Carr reports on her experience leading discussions of Dickens’ classic work on “money,Continue reading

“ . . . we need the wisdom of the educational reformer Robert Maynard Hutchins”

You can’t see us, but we’re giving that statement a standing ovation. It’s from “The Man Who Could Make Your Kids Less Ignorant,” a Daily Beast article about Robert Maynard Hutchins, one of the founders of the Great Books Foundation. What would Hutchins think of a new Council of Foreign Relations and National Geographic surveyContinue reading

Alliance for Liberal Learning Fall Conference

“Making Connections,” the second annual conference for the Alliance for Liberal Learning, will take place October 27 and October 28 in Chicago, Illinois. The ALL conference brings together representatives from institutions both academic and outside the academy—schools and colleges with formal great books and core texts curricula, residential and travel learning programs, degree-granting and non-degree—allContinue reading

Talking Service Comes to Louisville

We’re thrilled to announce a new Talking Service program in Louisville, Kentucky! Our friends at the Louisville Free Public Library and the Southwest Regional Library are hosting a series of Talking Service discussions beginning September 8 through October 18. Local veterans, active duty military personnel, and their families are invited to participate in discussions aboutContinue reading

EdScoop Features Great Books Plus!

We’re thrilled that EdScoop, an online leader in digital learning news, published an article about our new digital solution Great Books Plus. “Educators who know how to spark student conversations around classic books can vouch for how the process can improve reading comprehension and literacy. Now Great Books Foundation, a longtime provider of classroom readingContinue reading

Inspire Ideas with Great Books

A message for the start of a new school year from president Joseph P. Coulson. Teachers and students are the heart and soul of the Great Books Foundation. Nothing is more important to us than working closely with educators to engage young students in reading and thinking. Starting in kindergarten and through the early grades,Continue reading

Listening and Learning: Discussing “Our Mutual Friend” with Classical Pursuits

Last month I spent fifteen hours, spread over five days, leading a group of thirteen people discussing a 151-year-old novel. And doing Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend for the Classical Pursuits program is number one on the list of fun, mind-expanding things I did this summer. Each year, Toronto Pursuits offers me the chance to immerseContinue reading

Echoes of War: Supporting Veterans

Staff member Bill Siegel on his recent work at the Minnesota Humanities Center Earlier this month, I was honored to represent the Great Books Foundation as a training instructor working in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center’s “Echoes of War” project. Twelve Minnesota leaders were selected for the project, funded by the National Endowment forContinue reading

Talking Service Expands in Southern Illinois

On Thursday, August 11, the Great Books Foundation hosted a Talking Service workshop with representatives from Illinois Humanities along with facilitators who will bring Talking Service to Carbondale, Illinois. We worked out logistics, finalized dates, and prepared a syllabus of readings that will develop and encourage thoughtful discussion. We’d like to give a big thankContinue reading

“Why you think you’re right—even if you’re wrong”

Are you intrigued when someone’s perspective challenges your own, or are you more likely to defend your own viewpoint no matter what? Take 10 minutes to listen to this fascinating Ted talk by writer Julia Galef about how our mindset impacts how we interpret, process information, and evaluate evidence. Listen and reflect on her question:Continue reading

“Are you a Junior Great Books Alumni?”

We’re looking for you!  With the help of our good friends at WFMT, Chicago’s public radio station, we’re launching an exciting new Junior Great Books® alumni outreach initiative. Starting today, August 15—and the following three weeks—WFMT will air 60-second messages inviting former Junior Great Books participants to tell us their stories. People are encouraged toContinue reading

“This is inquiry learning at its finest . . .”

Kim Lanese, Assistant Principal at Norterra Canyon School in Phoenix, Arizona, on the impact Great Books has on her students & teachers. “Through the Great Books process, our students are learning to have honest conversations that are rooted in textual evidence. A Great Books discussion encourages students to form opinions, but then requires them to justifyContinue reading

Coming in September! Great Books Plus

Turn your classroom into an interactive, multimedia learning environment with Great Books Plus! Our new digital solution includes powerful integrative technology to enhance student learning and engagement, while offering a host of classroom management tools. Great Books Plus has all the features and benefits of Great Books programs and so much more! Here are just a fewContinue reading

How Listening & Sharing Shape Collaborative Learning

“We can learn more working together than working alone.” We didn’t write that sentence, but we agree that it’s absolutely true! Teachers who use Great Books programs and Shared Inquiry™ know the benefits of reading and discussing texts as a group. They see firsthand that sharing interpretations and ideas–and hearing different opinions–enhances student engagement andContinue reading

Coming Soon! New Junior Great Books K-1

We’re thrilled to announce the February 2017 release of an interactive read-aloud program for kindergarten and first grade—Junior Great Books® Series K–1! Junior Great Book Series K–1 is a flexible reading, discussion, and questioning program that engages students with outstanding age-appropriate fiction and poetry. The program’s sequence of activities mirrors Junior Great Books Series 2–5,

Echoes of War: A Unique Introduction to Shared Inquiry

Thanks to grant support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, we’re excited to partner with the Minnesota Humanities Center to present Echoes of War—NEH discussion leader training. Through a mix of carefully selected readings, guided discussion, lectures, and field trip experiences, participants in the workshop will prepare to lead community conversations on the topicContinue reading

“Moving from Heaviness to Hope”

It has been a violent and tense summer in the United States. A mass shooting in Florida, disturbing police killings of black men caught on video, murdered police officers in Dallas—all in the span of 4 weeks. These nationally covered incidents don’t include the every day violence and deteriorating community relations taking places across theContinue reading

“What’s on Your Summer Reading List?” Authors Respond

“So many books, so little time!” is what a friend posted in response to a summer reading list we recently shared on Facebook. Yeah, we knew—and yet we can’t stop checking out reading lists and adding new titles to our own. School Library Journal asked their favorite young adult and children’s writers to share whatContinue reading

What Doesn’t Work in the ELA Classroom

There is a lot of research & discussion about what literacy instructional practices work best, but thinking about what doesn’t work is equally valuable. We don’t need to tell you that teachers are under endless time crunches, and wasting time on questionable practices is the last thing you need. “What Doesn’t Work: Literacy Practices WeContinue reading

“Great Books discussion groups have always been an integral part of my life.”

We love little more than hearing how Great Books impacts people lives. We recently received a lovely email from long-term supporter Helen Smith and want to share her experience with you. My association with Great Books began in 1948 when I joined a Great Books leader-training group at the Providence, Rhode Island public library. InContinue reading

Reflecting on the Year’s Accomplishments

Educators in districts with a traditional summer break are no doubt celebrating the end of the school year. Teaching is hard work, and a summer away from the daily classroom can be essential to returning renewed in the fall. The end of the school year also presents an ideal time to reflect on personal performance. Continue reading

“What we can all learn from Muhammad Ali’s years in the wilderness”

Veteran Great Books staff member Bill Siegel’s film “The Trials of Muhammad Ali” won an Emmy last year. He wrote a powerful piece about Ali published in the June 6 edition of The Guardian. “As a storyteller, I’m driven by the question of how do you get to be who you are, how do youContinue reading

Overheard in a Shared Inquiry discussion: “You can’t say that! There’s no evidence in the story that proves that!”

Jean Overbroechling, a former middle-school gifted teacher from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, talks about Shared Inquiry™ discussions in her classroom.

At Home in Hemingway’s World: An Exploration of Homecoming Through Literature

Join us July 19 at Dominican University for a unique Talking Service event—discussions of two short stories by Ernest Hemingway and Tim O’Brien, followed by a featured presentation from Tim O’Brien, author of the acclaimed collection The Things They Carried. Their stories “Soldier’s Home” and “In the Field/Field Trip” depict the complex process of reassimilationContinue reading

Reflections of a Great Books Road Warrior

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”― Marcel Proust Summer 2016 marks my twentieth year as a Great Books professional learning consultant. During my second interview for the position I was asked if I liked to travel. Sure, I thought, who doesn’t like to travel? TheContinue reading

Chicago Foundation for Women Using #HerVoice to Share Stories

“Contemporary culture has fallen in love again with storytelling. And women’s stories, in their beauty and complexity, have the power to shape minds and shift views.” This quote appears at the beginning of the introduction to Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community. Written by K. Sujata, President of the Chicago FoundationContinue reading

Chicago Women: Celebrating Our Voices

What are you doing Tuesday evening May 17? How about celebrating the release of an amazing anthology of women’s writing? Join us to cheer the publication of our new book Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community at a free event on DePaul University’s Lincoln Park campus. Three of the authors includedContinue reading

Talk About It! Helping Students Think and Write about Nonfiction Texts

When your students read informational texts, do they have trouble forming clear arguments or opinions about what they read? Does their writing seem mechanical? If you answered yes, consider making time for students to discuss what they read before they write. Research shows that this age-old instructional tool boosts students’ reading comprehension, as well asContinue reading

How Does an Idea Become a Best Practice?

by Judith Donroe, Reading Consultant/Teacher, Hamden Middle School Common Core has opened a path to thinking and learning that calls for change in the way teachers teach. But how does a teacher change her practice to reflect that call? How does an idea become a best practice? And finally, how does a school take that practiceContinue reading

Beverly Cleary Turns 100!

Bring on the toothpaste cake! NPR books published a lovely article about the popular writer to commemorate her centennial birthday on April 12. “I think children want to read about normal, everyday kids,” she told NPR in 1999. “That’s what I wanted to read about when I was growing up. I wanted to read aboutContinue reading

Shimer College Open House

Are you interested in a college with a Great Books curriculum? If so, register for an April 15 Open House at Chicago’s Shimer College, a partner institution to the Great Books Foundation. Shimer offers a curriculum which is 65% core courses, reading a wide array of Great Books, and 35% electives (film, feminist philosophy, communityContinue reading

Where Do You Call Home?

Did you notice the wording of my title? If you know anything about Great Books and our Shared Inquiry™ method of reading and discussion, you know we value good questions and pay careful attention to their wording. Same with the question in my title. I chose this wording of the question as an ice-breaker atContinue reading

Why Ask Why?

Given the current state of our political environment, I have been recalling the story “The Emperor’s New Clothes” quite frequently. The tale of two weavers who dupe the king into believing he has a new suit of clothes that are invisible to those who are unfit for their position, or are stupid or incompetent. NoContinue reading

Preorder Her Own Accord!

The 27 selections in our new title Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community explore the experiences, challenges, and achievements of women from a contemporary point of view. The selections—including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, short stories, memoirs, and journalistic works—explore the experiences, challenges, and achievements of women from a contemporary point of view.Continue reading

Why You Should Start Your Class with a Poem

April is National Poetry month and the perfect inspiration to add more poetry to your curriculum. Brett Vogelsinger, a ninth-grade English teacher, began starting his class with a poem three years ago—he watched his students go from furrowing their brows at the idea, to asking for the poem on the rare occasion he delays untilContinue reading

9 Steps to Engaging K-2 Classroom Discussions

Teachers know that even the youngest students are capable of deep thinking. Teach kindergarten long enough and you’re bound to hear some profound insights on life, death, beauty, and everything in between.  But that level of depth and complexity doesn’t always translate over to students’ conversations about books and reading. The same student who wowedContinue reading

Great Books Staffer Participates in Honors Lecture Series

Donald H. Whitfield, Great Books Vice President for Community and National programs, is delighted to be a guest lecturer at Middle Tennessee State University’s upcoming Spring 2016 Honors Lecture Series. The theme of this year’s series is the Value of Liberal Education. Don is speaking on Monday, March 14, and his topic is Great BooksContinue reading

What People Are Saying

My students thought today’s testing was easy. I know it was because we use @GreatBooksFnd in the classroom. #rigor –Dan Chadd, 3rd grade teacher, New Market, Indiana (@DanChadd)

Home Is Where the Art Is: A Day with Author Edwidge Danticat

We are proud to welcome Haitian-American author, MacArthur Fellow, and National Book Award Nominee Edwidge Danticat to our upcoming event Home Is Where the Art Is: Insights on the Haitian-American Experience on Saturday, April 16th from 11 a.m.– 3 p.m. at the Haitian American Museum of Chicago. The morning session will include a conversation withContinue reading

” . . . done more for my students than any other program I have ever used.”

It makes our day—and often our entire week—when teachers tell us how much Great Books benefits them and their students. Elizabeth A. Scott, a second-grade teacher at Kemps Landing/Old Donation School in Virginia Beach, sent us the following enthusiastic message after attending one of our professional development courses. “At the start of the school year,Continue reading

Questioning that Deepens Comprehension

We’ve long known that not all questioning strategies are created equal, and we recognize it isn’t easy to distinguish what kind of questions help students better understand complex texts. Interpretive questions–ones that have more than one answer and can be supported with evidence in the text–always bring students closer to the text, but what otherContinue reading

Elizabeth A. Scott, Second Grade Teacher

Junior Great Books training is hands down the most informative, useful (and fun) professional development I’ve ever attended. –Elizabeth A. Scott, Second Grade Teacher Kemps Landing/Old Donation School Virginia Beach, VA

Coming Soon! Her Own Accord

We’re always excited and proud to announce a new title, but we’re exuberant about our forthcoming anthology Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community. Gender, and the tremendous impact it has on people’s lives, is finally part of the national dialogue, and we’re thrilled to add the voices of 27 women writersContinue reading

Great Books Summer Program

A message from our president Dr. Joseph P. Coulson, Ph.D. Established in association with the Great Books Foundation, the Great Books Summer Program (GBSP) is an exceptional summer learning experience for bright middle and high school students. Since 2002, this program has been bringing engaged learners from around the country and around the globe togetherContinue reading

Talking Service News

We’re thrilled 2016 begins with expansion of our Talking Service program in 3 states! Thanks to the support of state humanities councils and generous host sites, our reading and discussion program will help more veterans acclimate to civilian life by sharing their experiences and ideas with fellow vets. The Charles George VA Medical Center (CGVAMC)Continue reading

One More Night of “Stories with Nine Strangers”

Join us Thursday, March 31 for the last night of the Chicago History Museum’s unique Stories with Nine Strangers program! A celebration of the museum’s newest exhibition, Chicago Authored, Stories with Nine Strangers turns strangers into friends by reading and exploring a great Chicago story together. Participants will be randomly seated at a table withContinue reading

Cheers to Emma Watson!

A young actor who not only gives her time and voice to support women’s equality through her work as UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, but also encourages reading & discussion by starting a feminist book group? Give us a minute to give Emma Watson the standing ovation she deserves. Emma recently announced her book group, “OurContinue reading

But Still, Like Air, I’ll Rise

January 18 is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the Academy of American Poets curated a wonderful collection of poems in honor and celebration. We’re sharing them with you, and encourage you to read them, share them, and reflect on other poems of your own choosing on this important national holiday. “Still I Rise” byContinue reading

Talking Service in Henrico County Virginia

Cheers to the good people at Virginia’s Henrico County Public Library for hosting Talking Service, our reading and discussion program for veterans, for eight sessions starting this month. “We think this is a unique experience for veterans and the general public to share and connect over a very special piece of literature,” said Henrico CountyContinue reading

Juan Felipe Herrera Poetry Foundation Residency

Poet Laureate of the United States Juan Felipe Herrera will share his La Casa de Colores project and conduct student workshops during his residency at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago February 9 and 10. Space is limited at these free evening sessions, so  inquire soon if you’re interested in attending. Herrera’s story  “The Upside-Down Boy”Continue reading

MASTERPIECE Launches Book Club

One of our favorite television programs, PBS’s MASTERPIECE, recently launched a book club for book-loving fans. The MASTERPIECE Book Club will host exciting features for popular programs such as Downton Abbey and Sherlock. Features will include recommended reading related to current MASTERPIECE shows, insights into what cast and crew are reading, related recipes perfect forContinue reading

One Nation, Under Debate—A Panel Discussion

In partnership with the Union League Club of Chicago, we sponsor a series of panel discussions that bring together leading Chicago citizens to publicly discuss written works and their enduring ideas. We are excited to announce the third event in this ongoing series of public panel discussions: One Nation, Under Debate. One Nation, Under DebateContinue reading

Minnesota Humanities Center’s Veterans Voices program and Standing Down

Our office will be closed for the holidays as of Thursday, December 24 and will reopen on Monday, January 4, 2016. You can continue to place orders using our online store. If you have questions or need additional information during this time, please send us an email or leave us a voice mail—we’ll get backContinue reading

The Noodle Group

I work at the Great Books Foundation and I’m in a book group. I love books, I love discussing, I’m an English major . . . gotta have a book group. I belong to the Noodle Group, avid readers and discussers, some are Great Books staff members or former staff, and many more from outsideContinue reading

Cotsen Foundation + Great Books

The Cotsen Foundation for the ART of TEACHING recently hosted an engaging day of Great Books professional development for 37 educators in Long Beach, California, and posted a positive and enthusiastic article about the experience on its site. We’re honored that the Cotsen Foundation believes Great Books and Shared Inquiry™ help them achieve their missionContinue reading

“The Journey Home from War”

Jamil Zainaldin, president of the Georgia Humanities Council and son of a career military officer, wrote an engaging article about our Talking Service programs in 4 northern Georgia communities for Atlanta’s Saporta Report. “War literature and other veterans to talk about it with can be good medicine,” says Professor Kristin Kelly of the University ofContinue reading

Education Talk Radio: NCTE on 21st Century Literacy

Mary Ressler, literary specialist at Centerville Middle School, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and recipient of the 2015 NCTE Media Literacy Award, discusses 21st century literacy and “Movie of the Mind,” a method to teach literacy, comprehension, and reading.

New Mexico Public Library Hosts Talking Service

We’re grateful for the good people at the Socorro Public Library for hosting bi-weekly Talking Service discussions through the months of November and December. Thanks to the support of the New Mexico Humanities Council, veteran participants receive a free copy of our anthology Standing Down: From Warrior to Civilian. Talking Service, our reading and discussionContinue reading

#GivingTuesday a Great Books Success

Leading up to #GivingTuesday, we received emails, photos, and stories from Great Books supporters around the country. In the spirit of the holiday, these supporters shared with the Great Books community how they are #GivingVoice through our books and discussions. We found that even though these stories came from readers of all ages, they sharedContinue reading

Six Ways to Help Quiet Students Participate in Discussions

You want everyone to participate in your classroom discussion—but some students hardly ever speak! Try the strategies below for helping quiet students join the discussion. They will often begin participating when they feel supported and understood.

Great Books & the Chicago History Museum’s “Chicago Authored” Exhibit

We’re honored by the Chicago History Museum’s invitation to participate in its December 9 Middle and High School Student Symposium introducing students to the museum’s ”Chicago Authored” exhibit. During the symposium, students from 5 public and private schools will explore Chicago literature through gallery experiences, writing workshops, live readings, and thought-provoking discussion sessions. Great BooksContinue reading

“I can’t get it out of their hands!”

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Wishing you and yours a . . .

Choose Your Own Adventure: A Conversation with Jennifer Egan & George Saunders

Imagining the future has long intrigued writers and readers. There are no constraints when envisioning our future communities and world, and that alone is incredibly appealing. Futuristic fiction takes us places that make us pause, as our brains, habituated by the predictable, work to catch up. Authors Jennifer Egan and George Saunders recently discussed theContinue reading

Veterans Empowerment Organization & Talking Service

In 2015, the Veterans Empowerment Organization hosted two consecutive series of Talking Service discussions in Atlanta, Georgia. The participants were part of the organization’s rehabilitation program for homeless veterans and the discussions were led by volunteer Hamid Dawan, Commander of the Atlanta Chapter of the National Association of Black Veterans.Continue reading

Inquiry-Based Learning

What is inquiry-based learning and why do it? Listen to two advocates—Kim Lanese, Assistant Principal at Borterra Canyon Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona, and Stephanie Given, Cotsen Foundation mentor teacher at Acacia School in Fullerton, California—discuss their insights about inquiry-based learning. 

Great Books & the Alliance for Liberal Learning

“Bitten by the bug” of lifelong learning was how Saturday’s keynote speaker Todd Breyfogle of the Aspen Institute described the participants who attended the Alliance for Liberal Learning’s (ALL) inaugural conference in Chicago November 6–7. These inspiring and committed folks included representatives from the Great Books Foundation; the Aspen Institute and other nonprofits; graduates andContinue reading

Thoughts on Tragedy

Our hearts are heavy after a weekend in which tragedy befell too many corners of our world, including Beirut, Kenya, and Paris. Though we know that nothing we can say or do can adequately comfort those who are suffering from loss, our thoughts are still with them today. As we enter a new week, whichContinue reading

“War Vets Find Solace in Stories” from the Miami Herald

As the college student veteran population grows, many universities are developing programs to support their unique needs. For example, veteran students are more likely to have dependents, full-time jobs, and live far from campus—realities that bring additional pressure to student life. At Miami’s Florida International University (FIU), administrators decided our Talking Service reading and discussionContinue reading

A Veteran’s Story

In an NPR interview, Benjamin Busch, author of the foreword to our anthology, Standing Down: From Warrior to Civilian, takes exception to our impulse to routinely thank veterans for their service. While expressing gratitude for the sacrifices citizens make when they join the armed forces is well meant, the gesture hardly begins to address theContinue reading

Parent Volunteer Coordinator

As a child I went through the Junior Great Books program and really want my children to have the same experience. I feel that this is the best program out there to provide my children with the critical thinking skills they will need to succeed later in life, and I’m excited to be working toContinue reading

Networking with State Humanities Councils

Great Books staff member Donald Whitfield, director of community and national programs, was honored to represent us at the annual conference of the Federation of State Humanities Councils in St. Louis, Missouri, November  5–7. The conference brought together approximately 300 staff and board members of the country’s 56 councils to learn from each other aboutContinue reading

Using Technology to Enhance Read-Aloud Time

Do you ever wonder how to best integrate your tech tools with read-aloud time and activities? If so, wonder no longer! Edutopia’s “7 Tech Tips for your Next Read-Aloud” provides useful and concise guidance on enhancing reading aloud with technology. And don’t think the tips are only for early elementary students, they’re applicable for allContinue reading

Chicagoans! Come to a Veteran’s Day Book Launch

Join us in supporting DePaul University’s Big Shoulders Books by attending the book launch party for I Remember: Chicago Veterans of War on November 11. The book weaves together the memories of 50 veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These vets were asked to share their war experiences—both small andContinue reading

#GivingVoice on #GivingTuesday

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” —Winston Churchill Are you familiar with  #GivingTuesday? After the abundance of Thanksgiving and the mad rush of shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the first Tuesday of December is a day dedicated to giving back. This yearContinue reading

Lights! Camera! Action! Filming Shared Inquiry Discussions in California Schools

Thanks to the Cotsen Foundation, Great Books staff member Bill Siegel and a film crew recently had a fantastic time filming Shared Inquiry™ discussions in two California schools. Students at Acacia Elementary (Fullerton School District) and Coeur d’Alene Avenue School (Los Angeles Unified School District) excitedly discussed Jack and the Beanstalk, The Veldt by RayContinue reading

President Obama: “ . . . the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels.”

For almost 70 years we’ve espoused the importance and power of reading novels, and it’s affirming to hear President Obama express the same conviction. In an interview with Marilynne Robinson published in the New York Review of Books, president Obama discusses the tremendous impact reading novels has had on his life:  “When I think aboutContinue reading

New! Expanded Blended Shared Inquiry Essentials Course

Questions inspire! Asking the right questions at the right time is a skill that requires practice. How do you learn this skill & get the practice you need? In our revised and expanded 15-hour Blended Shared Inquiry Essentials Course! The course will help you develop and refine this skill so you can empower your studentsContinue reading

Georgia principal on Great Books programs: “I’ve seen it change lives.”

Watch a short video of Camille Murner, a high school principal in Monticello, Georgia, discussing the impact Great Books & Shared Inquiry has on her students.

Join us for Great Books Chicago 2016 — Imperfect Ideal

We’re pleased to announce the return of our weekend of discussions and cultural outings for Great Books enthusiasts! Great Books Chicago 2016 — Imperfect Ideal will take place starting at noon on Friday, April 29 and will run through 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, 2016. Please join us for three lively discussions centered on

Tampa Bay Great Books Conference

Calling all Floridian Great Books readers! The 11th annual Tampa Bay Great Books Conference Weekend will be held on January 29–31, 2016. This conference is sponsored by the Tampa Bay Great Books Council, one of the most active and innovative councils within our national community! The conference will take place at the Hilton St. PetersburgContinue reading

Will the Revised PSAT & SAT Create More Equality in Testing?

Revisions to the PSAT & SAT, rolling out this month and next spring respectively, are an attempt to negate some of the inequities in standardized testing and level the college admissions playing field. According to the Christan Science Monitor, the SAT is serious about reducing the opportunity gap, and reports that “major changes include moreContinue reading

DOE Supports Underrepresented Students in Gifted & Talented Programs

Our most vulnerable students deserve equal opportunities to succeed in school, and we applaud when new funds are earmarked for their needs. We were pleased to learn that the Department of Education recently gave 11 awards totaling more than $4 million to increase the number of underrepresented students in gifted & talented programs. The awardsContinue reading

Alliance for Liberal Learning Conference in Chicago

Are you interested in promoting and supporting conversations about great works and ideas? If yes, we encourage you to attend the inaugural conference of the Alliance for Liberal Learning (ALL) on November 6 and 7 in downtown Chicago’s historic Jeweler’s Building, also home to the Great Books Foundation. In keeping with the theme of thisContinue reading

Great Books Staffer Wins an Emmy!

We’re fortunate to have a talented staff and we enjoy celebrating each other’s personal artistic accomplishments, especially when they reflect the power of narrative. Right now we’re cheering for our colleague Bill Siegel whose documentary, The Trials of Muhammad Ali, won an Emmy on September 28 in New York City. The film, broadcast by PBSContinue reading

Teaching Students to Think Critically about News Sources

There’s no debate that advancements in digital technology and information sharing are valuable educational tools.  However, access to seemingly endless news and information creates a few dilemmas. One of them is how to determine the reliability of sources. Students who are “digital natives”—ones who can’t remember a time without the Internet—often assume what they readContinue reading

“Shared Inquiry is highly, highly impactful. . . ”

We love attending conferences because they give us the opportunity to meet new educators and talk to them about the benefits of Great Books. We also enjoy them because we meet program users who share their positive experiences. For example, at the Kansas Gifted Talented and Creative Conference in Overland Park last week, Dr. RobinContinue reading

The Travels of Talking Service

As Talking Service continues to grow throughout the United States, we want to keep you updated on our travels and whereabouts! Talking Service aims to give back to veterans as much as they have given to us. Here are some updates on our progress: Tennessee We were thrilled to be a part of Middle TennesseeContinue reading

Alliance for Liberal Learning Inaugural Conference

The first annual conference of the Alliance for Liberal Learning will take place November 6 and 7 in downtown Chicago’s historic Jeweler’s Building, also home to the Great Books Foundation. In keeping with the theme of “Citizens,” focus of this year’s Chicago Humanities Festival, the Great Books Foundation will be donating complimentary copies of theirContinue reading

Why in a democracy do we still ban books?

Joseph Coulson, President, Great Books Foundation Twelve months ago I wrote a brief reflection for Banned Books Week. A year has gone by and titles old and new continue to be banned in communities across the country. Many people in the digital domain, using a variation on Nietzsche, have declared the book dead, but booksContinue reading

Tips to Empower Students to Ask their own Questions about Literature

By Joel Pardalis, sixth-grade teacher at New Fairfield Middle School in New Fairfield, Connecticut Teach students the value of different types of questions. Initially, we start off talking about open versus closed questions. We talk about the differences and what each type of question leads to when it is answered. We also talk about howContinue reading

The Importance of Student Questions

We’re grateful to Joel Pardalis, sixth-grade teacher at New Fairfield Middle School in New Fairfield, Connecticut, for writing this guest post about how he discovered the benefits of effective questioning and how to get students to ask their own questions. Early in my teaching career I wanted certain things from my students, but my behaviorContinue reading

Immigrants in the News

The migrant humanitarian crisis in Europe has inspired long-delayed public dialogue about the plight of refugees and the struggles immigrants endure. And as in most meaningful dialogue, references to relevant stories and literature are part of the conversation. Stories in our anthology Immigrant Voices: 21st Century Stories are noted in “Longing to Belong: What’s NextContinue reading

The Democratic Influence of Junior Great Books

Matthew Rief, a former teacher currently serving as Director of Advanced and Enriched Instruction at the District of Columbia Schools (DCPS), shares his experience using Junior Great Books. I’m generally not a big fan of surprises, I like my life predictable and stable. However, every once in a while—sometimes more often, sometimes less—we get thrownContinue reading

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The Shared Inquiry training was phenomenal!… –Lynn Tschaplinski K-6 Reading Coordinator Oak Ridge Schools Oak Ridge, TN

See Junior Great Books in Action!

We love when teachers share photos of students using Great Books in their classrooms on social media! They remind of us of why we do what we do, while showing both how deeply students engage with our programs and the variety of ways teachers integrate them into their curriculum. For example, check out this photoContinue reading

“I’m so impressed with the thoughtfulness of their conversations!”

Monette DeSimone, a second-grade teacher at City Academy in St. Louis, Missouri, sent us this email message after attending a professional learning course and using Shared Inquiry with her students for the first time. We were happy to hear she now wants to bring Junior Great Books to her students. I want you to knowContinue reading

12 Ways to Get Students Listening & Speaking

We know classrooms are full of polar behaviors. Some students won’t stop talking; others never speak up. There are students who truly know how to listen; while many of them think listening is simply not talking.  Strong oral communication skills are essential to learning, and beyond that, they’re necessary for successful careers and interpersonal relationships.Continue reading

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Junior Great Books is making such a difference with our students…. –Dr. Grace A. Reid Principal Bernard Elementary School Washington, D.C.

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This may sound like an exaggeration, but Great Books saved my sanity…. For two years it was the center of my life. Thank you Great Books. –Virginia Tschanz Westminster, CO

Tampa Bay Great Books Council 2015 Fall Conference

Society’s leaders, whether guided by military, political, or pastoral aims, have tried to create their own versions of “the perfect world.” Can human beings, given all their prejudices and foibles, create a perfect society? Have we ever succeeded in reaching this goal? If you’re intrigued by these questions and live in the Tampa Bay area,Continue reading

Junior Great Books Case Studies

We’re always excited when a new school year begins, but this year we’re especially enthusiastic because 5 schools are participating in Junior Great Books case study projects. “We look forward to working with these 5 project schools as they implement Junior Great Books in grades 3-5,” said program director Mary Kent Sweeton. “I’m eager toContinue reading

Middlemarch In-Depth

George Eliot began writing her masterpiece, Middlemarch, in August 1869. To commemorate the occasion, Nancy Carr, a senior editor at Great Books, discusses the novel’s lasting significance. Nancy earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia and has led a number of week-long discussion seminars on Middlemarch. She would like to give particularContinue reading

“One of the best PD days we have ever had!”

Nothing makes our day more than hearing positive feedback from educators! Tricia Bauche, director of curriculum and instruction at St. Joseph School in St. Charles, Missouri, recently attended our Shared Inquiry Essentials course and shared her enthusiasm about our inquiry-based approach to teaching and learning with Charlie Murphy, our educational consultant for Missouri.

Tampa Great Books Council Sponsors Talking Service

We’re grateful for the 12 independent Great Books councils that support reading and discussing literature by modeling it in their communities, and we’re especially grateful when these councils make an effort to introduce the experience to new people. Earlier this year, the Tampa Florida Great Books Council sponsored Talking Service—our reading and discussion program forContinue reading

Best Online Resources for New Teachers

A new job typically brings anxiety, but standing in front of your own classroom for the first time can be especially nerve wracking.  New teachers have lots of questions: “How do I establish classroom routines?” “What if my classroom management doesn’t work?”

New Teacher Resource: Using Powerful Questions to Enhance Guided Reading

If you’re like most elementary school teachers, targeted, small-group reading instruction plays a key role in your robust literacy program. So how’s your guided reading instruction going? Are your students engaged and actively thinking?

Flexible Classrooms: do they positively impact learning?

If you asked teachers in Albemarle County Public Schools this question they’d answer “Yes!”  Since implementing flexible classrooms, the Virginia district has seen increased student engagement and better grades.  What’s a flexible classroom? It’s one where kids don’t sit in the

“Great Books Saved My Sanity”

We love hearing from Great Books discussion group participants, and especially enjoy when they tell us about the impact reading and discussing literature had on their lives. Virginia Tschanz, a painter and writer from Westminster, Colorado, recently told us about her experience discovering Great Books in the 1960s.  We’re grateful for Virginia’s positive words andContinue reading

Discussion Group Spotlight: Cherry Hills Village, Colorado

In the mid 1970s, several of us mothers of elementary-age children were introduced to the Great Books Foundation when we enrolled in the Junior Great Books leadership training classes in Denver. Our inspiration led to volunteering as “teachers” of Junior

Inspiration: City of Venice

Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematicContinue reading

New! Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry

We know teachers are expected to provide more and more informational texts to their students, and not just in English Language Arts. With so many texts to choose from, how do you know you’re adding quality and engaging nonfiction readings to your classroom? Rely on Great Books expertise to guide you! Our new Junior GreatContinue reading

E.L. Doctorow: A Master of Historical Fiction

E.L. Doctorow, an American novelist of tremendous literary invention and political conscience, passed away on July 21. His novel Ragtime made him a household name in the 1970’s, but his masterpiece may well be The Book of Daniel. Read the New York Times tribute to learn more.    

Notes on Hemingway’s Birthday

Joseph Coulson, President, Great Books Foundation Using terse, understated language—a plainspoken precision that was also rapturous and heartbreaking—Hemingway made the novel modern in both style and sensibility.

Joseph Coulson and the Great Books Summer Program

Foundation president Joseph Coulson traveled west last week and taught students in the Great Books Summer Program at Stanford University.  The program brings exceptional middle and high school students together to read, discuss, and debate great works of literature, experience college-level discussions and seminars, and enjoy a fun summer experience with other literary-minded students.

Talking Service: Reaching More Vets!

We’re excited that Talking Service, our national reading and discussion program for veterans, will be expanding to VA medical facilities! Don Whitfield, program director, recently attended two days of meetings at the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, North Carolina to plan a pilot program introducing arts and humanities into care centers for veterans.Continue reading

Best Summer Reads

Every summer kids and adults retreat to backyards, city parks, beaches, and lake-side cabins to get away from the daily grind of school, work, and responsibilities. For many of us, any summer retreat includes reading books—preferably more than one. I asked my colleagues to share their best summer reading memories and no surprise,

New Title! Counterparts

We excited to announce publication of Counterparts, an exciting new collection that features pairings of texts that complement or play off of one another in interesting ways. We carefully selected readings across genres and time periods on topics such as love, art, science, war, gender, authorship, and others. Here are a few of the topics

Critical Thinking with Literature: It’s Problem-Solving

Critical thinking tops the list of skills students need for success in the complex 21st century. When it comes to science and math, most people equate critical thinking with problem solving. In those content areas, students apply their understanding of basic concepts to a task for which the solution is not known in advance. ByContinue reading

News from Former Great Books Panelist

We were excited to hear Israeli Consul General Roey Gilad speak again last night at the Commemoration of Israeli-German Relations. This former With Malice Toward None panelist and his peers celebrated and discussed the last fifty years of diplomatic relations between Germany and Israel.

Education Talk Radio: Creating Home-School Partnerships with Diverse Families

The interview features JoBeth Allen, Professor Emeritus at the University of Georgia in Language and Literacy Education, where she taught courses on writing pedagogy, poetry, family-school partnerships, and critical pedagogy, and conducted collaborative action research with teachers on issues of educational equity and social justice. She and Red Clay Writing Project teachers Jennifer Beaty, AngelaContinue reading

Using Inquiry to Discuss Short Films

As an avid reader and devoted movie buff, I enjoy discussing movies as much as discussing books. If the film is adapted from a book, the question—“Which is better, the book or the movie?”—pales in comparison to the question “Did the filmmakers capture or convey the meaning of the text?” As with a text, ifContinue reading

How the Right Questions Make a Story Discussable

Great Books selections support Shared Inquiry™ discussion because they have multiple interpretations. Yet even stories with multiple interpretations fall flat in discussion if teachers ask the wrong kind of questions. Easily answered factual questions & questions with only one answer don’t help students learn to read for meaning. Let’s examine interpretive questions for The FireContinue reading

Saul Bellow: Remembering a Great Novelist on his Birthday

Joseph Coulson, President, Great Books Foundation Saul Bellow sketched the shadowlands of dislocation, regret, and loss, showing us that cultural upheaval, whether spiritual, political, or technological, can derail our lives long before death finally descends. His lyricism and dark humor invited us into the worlds of his fiction but, as readers, we traveled those worldsContinue reading

Education Talk Radio: Multi-Cultural Literacy Education & 21st Century Leadership

Shekema Silveri, Georgia’s 2011 Milken National Educator, founder of the Silveri Service Learning Academy, and founding executive director of the IFE Academy of Teaching & Technology (Atlanta, GA), discusses what “multi-cultural literacy” really means and how to obtain it in your classroom and school.

Reinvent Education

There are endless opinions about how to improve public education, but we agree with the common sense ideas in this three minute video “The Big Picture: Reinvent Education” from MoveOn.org—from shifting focus from testing to providing curriculum that

CME Grant Funds Initiatives for Adults

For the third consecutive year, the Great Books Foundation has received a donation of $25,000 from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to support two outreach initiatives. The grant will help expand Talking Service, our veterans program, and Reading Between the Lines,

Discussion Group Spotlight: Argyle Great Books Group (Argyle, NY)

Early in the ‘70s the Argyle Free Library sponsored a series of programs on the Civil War. A small group attended, then continued meeting to discuss our favorite books. One of the early titles was Twelve Years a Slave, Solomon Northup’s account of his kidnapping and subsequent enslavement. We enjoyedContinue reading

Standing Down: From Warrior to Civilian—Book Review

This book review by Dr. Jim Thurman, political science professor at Central Wyoming College/University of Wyoming, was published in HMU: Dialogues, the newsletter of Harrison Middleton University.

Creating 21st Century Learning Environments

If you’re a teacher or administrator you’ve read about the importance of creating 21st century learning environments in your classroom or school. Our rapidly changing world requires citizens who are adept at analysis and problem solving—they also need to be adaptable, fluent in new literacies, and engaged in continually learning new skills.

How to Avoid Learned Helplessness

Do you have students who constantly need affirmation that they “got it right?” No doubt your answer is yes. Some students get so caught up in making sure they’re on the right track or wondering what they should do next that they stall their learning process.

School Voices: Junior Great Books Makes a Difference

“Junior Great Books is making such a difference with our students!  Using the program has improved their overall performance—they conduct their own Socratic seminars, articulate their own thoughts and perspectives, ask for and challenge each other’s points of view

Education Talk Radio: NCTE

Troy Hicks, a professor at Central Michigan University, and Kristen Hawley, associate professor of English education and contemporary literacies at Fordham University, discuss the challenges of teaching reading to adolescents in a digital world. Hicks and Hawley co-authored the NCTE book Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescents in a Digital World.

Remembering Jacob Friedes 1915-2015

Great Books discussion group members are our most stalwart supporters. Our efforts to bring meaningful discussions of literature to communities across the country begin and end with book group members. We’re always saddened to hear of the loss of a participant, and especially so when that person’s commitment to Great Books spans decades. Jacob Friedes—aContinue reading

Discussion Group Spotlight: Great Readings Book Club (Venice, FL)

The Great Readings Book Club meets from early January through late April. Quite a few members are snowbirds, so we don’t meet during the other months! Because we meet weekly, it works best to use shorter selections from a Great Books anthology. In addition, we generally include two or three other selections. For example, thisContinue reading

How to Be a Teacher Leader

Who knows teaching best? Teachers of course. We read a lot of teacher and educational blogs to learn from them and to share  standouts with you.  Liz Prather, a Kentucky high school teacher and blogger for the Center for Teaching Quality, describes the 8 steps she took to develop asContinue reading

Talking Service Expands

Talking Service is a national reading and discussion program that supports veterans in their transition from military to civilian life. Moderated by a skilled facilitator, each discussion uses powerful selections from our anthology Standing Down: From Warrior to Civilian to help participants share their experiences, concerns, andideas. The program is open to men and womenContinue reading

“Shared Inquiry Training was Phenomenal!”

There isn’t much we enjoy more than hearing from teachers. Our K-12 efforts rely on dedicated educators who are committed to both being the best at their craft and to using the best instructional strategies in their classrooms. We’re confident Shared Inquiry™ can bea game changer for teachers, and our confidence is renewed when teachersContinue reading

Education Talk Radio: Teacher Reflection

Listen to Pete Hall and Alisa Simeral, authors of the ASCD book Teach, Reflect, Learn: Build Your Capacity for Success in the Classroom, discuss teacher reflection. They share strategies to reveal deeper understandings of your teaching practice and increase your power to make purposeful improvements.

How to Create a Culture of Deeper Learning in Your Classroom

We all know deeper learning benefits students, but how do teachers get them there? Inquiry and extending conversation are key, and equally important is establishing a classroom environment that fosters both on a regular basis. Elizabeth Garcia, Founder and Head of

To commemorate National Poetry Month: “The Shrine,” by Joseph Coulson

Great Books president Coulson is a novelist, playwright, and an award winning poet. He has published three books of poetry, The Letting Go (1984), A Measured Silence (1986), and Graph (1990), and his poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines and journals.

With Malice Toward None: Another Successful Community Discussion Event!

The panel discussion we hosted together with the Union League Club of Chicago and WTTW on April 9, 2015 was an exciting evening of conversation and civic participation. In honor of the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, distinguished guests shared their

The College Magazine: Great Books for Kids

Juliana Martonffy Laumakis, a St. John’s College alumni (1998), shared her experience as a Junior Great Books volunteer in the Alumni Notes section of The College Magazine, Winter 2015. We’re grateful for her support! “Anyone out there looking to indoctrinate the next generation should check out the Junior Great BooksContinue reading

Working Together: Junior Great Books & Our Classroom Nonfiction Libraries

Integrating fiction and nonfiction is important, and our new correlation charts make it easy! The themes in Junior Great Books Series 2 through 5 raise a variety of questions that can extend to related titles in our Classroom Nonfiction Libraries—and with 30 titles per

Joseph Coulson Presenting at SoMIRAC

Are you in Baltimore for SoMIRAC? If yes, be sure to attend Great Books president (and former classroom teacher) Joseph Coulson’s featured session, “Shared Inquiry and Socratic Practice: Building a Better Discussion,” at 10:45 on April 17. Coulson will explore how inquiry-based instruction increases the depth, range, and efficacy ofContinue reading

DIY Utopia: Planned Communities in America

Imperfect Ideal is here! We’re excited to announce our newest title and to add it to the list of excellent books and films that talk about the themes of utopia and dystopia. With Imperfect Ideal, Great Books joins the conversation! There’s obviously a lot to talk

Literature, Inquiry, and Freedom

Joseph P. Coulson, PhD, President, The Great Books Foundation Reading a novel, a short story, or a poem is an act of collaboration. I mean by this that great literature needs a reader’s imagination, experiences, and emotions to fill the blank spaces of the text. Words spark a memory, aContinue reading

With Malice Toward None: Honoring Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

On the evening of April 9th, a panel of distinguished guests will gather for an in-depth discussion of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address to commemorate the end of the Civil War. Moderators Joseph Coulson, Ph.D., president of the Great Books Foundation, and Donald Whitfield, director of Great Books Discussions, will help the panelContinue reading

President Joseph Coulson Speaking at Penn State CALS Symposium

We’re honored that Joe is among a group of authors and leaders in the humanities who will participate in the Center for American Literary Studies (CALS) Spring Symposium: American Literature as a Public Space. The March 30 event will celebrate the innovative ways individuals, museums, foundations, libraries, blogs, and otherContinue reading

Now Available! Imperfect Ideal: Utopian and Dystopian Visions

Our newest title, Imperfect Ideal: Utopian and Dystopian Visions, features thought-provoking works by Ursula K. Le Guin, Oscar Wilde, Vladimir Lenin, Jennifer Egan, George Saunders, and others. Imperfect Ideal is an exciting collection of short stories, poems, and essays that illustrate the best and worst of what can happen

Education Talk Radio: NCTE

Joyce Locke Carter, NCTE’s Associate Chair  & Program Chair of the CCCC Conference and an Associate Professor at Texas Tech University, talks about this year’s conference theme “Risk & Reward,” how important it is for educators to think outside of the box, and the connections between K-12 and college.

Professional Learning for the Long Run

You know that ongoing professional learning is important, so you regularly read books, blogs, and engage in activities with a professional learning community. You also receive announcements for courses and workshops on a variety of appealing topics. So how do you decide when to take a course or workshop and

Education Talk Radio: International Baccalaureate

Dr. Sidney Baker, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary for the North Atlanta, Washington & Douglass Clusters of the Atlanta Public Schools, discusses the do’s and don’ts of  implementing the International Baccalaureate program into your school.

Real-Life Tips and Stories for Mentors and New Teachers

Being a teaching mentor is an incredible chance to make a difference. You can make a new educator’s transition into a multifaceted and truly effective professional better and easier. And you help a whole class of children (besides your own!) have a successful year. Mentoring is not always easy. What works for one

Education Talk Radio: The Assessment Story Project

Kathleen Blake Yancey, Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English and Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University, talks about the Assessment Story Project, a National Council of Teachers of English initiative that puts teacher’s voices front and center in the testing debate. The stories they collect will help answer theContinue reading

Education Talk Radio: ASCD on Emerging Leaders

Kevin Scott, ASCD Strategic Advisor, discusses the qualifications and goals of being named an “Emerging Leader ” in education. He also provides a preview of the ASCD conference in Houston later this month.

Talking Service: A Note from Georgia

Kristin G. Kelly, Ph.D., an associate professor of English at the University of North Georgia, is a leader for Talking Service, our reading and discussion program for veterans (the program is sponsored locally by the Georgia Humanities Council). She recently sent us the following update on her work and weContinue reading

Great Books at Veterans Upward Bound Conference

We’re super excited about attending this week’s Veterans Upward Bound (VUB) conference in Fairfax, Virginia! The conference theme, “Boots to Books: Bridging the Gap,” is obviously close to our hearts and we look forward to introducing VUB administrators to Shared Inquiry™  at our March 11th workshop. Susan

10 Under-Read Novels by Black Writers

As part of our celebration of Black History Month, the Great Books Foundation, with the help of a few of our academic and writer friends, has come up with a list of ten under-read novels by black writers. Some books are lesser-known works by famous writers, while others are

A Reader’s Favorite: Toni Morrison

I read Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye for the first time when I was 14 and my tears brought my father to my bedroom door to ask what was wrong. My dad, who prefers spy thrillers, said “It’s just a story, don’t let it upset you so much.” I wantedContinue reading

Come see us at KAGE!

Are you in beautiful Lexington, Kentucky for KAGE 2015? If yes, learn about the many benefits of Shared Inquiry™ discussion at our interactive demonstration on Tuesday, February 24 at 11:50 a.m. We’ll be in Room D at the Griffin Gate Marriott Resort.

Our Resident Oscar Nominated Filmmaker Visits Georgia Regents University

In addition to our daily work in schools and forums nationwide, Great Books staff members share their boundless creativity and talents in many ways. Take Bill Siegel—when not engaged in his full-time duties as a professional learning consultant and video producer, Bill pursues his love of documentary filmmaking. He’s a

12 Reasons Students Just Aren’t That Into You

Do you ever wonder why students become disengaged from learning? Why they often seem to check out in class? Of course you do. Do you wonder if your habits have anything to do with their disconnection? Teacher Jennifer Davis Bowman did and she asked her students to make a listContinue reading

Education Talk Radio: Taking The Reins of Writing Assessment

Featuring Chris W. Gallagher, Writing Program director and Professor of English at Northeastern University in Boston, and Eric D. Turley, English teacher at Kirkwood High School in Kirkwood, Kirkwood, Missouri, coauthors of the NCTE Book Our Better Judgment—focused on how teachers in schools are “taking the reins of writing assessment, guiding and improving theContinue reading

2nd Grade Students Answer “What’s Your Favorite Junior Great Books Story?”

Professional Learning: Language Matters

We hear a lot about training teachers and rewarding them when they perform well. Sounds like something people say about the family dog doesn’t it? “Max was great at his training today! He’s getting extra peanut butter in his kong as a reward!”  We all know that language matters—the words we choose convey more

Ray Bradbury: The World’s Only Accidental Architect

We’re big Bradbury fans. We aren’t the only ones—his stories “All Summer in a Day” (Junior Great Books, Series 5, Book One) and “The Veldt” (Great Books Roundtable Level 1) are student favorites. Bradbury wrote over 600 short stories and 27 novels, but many people don’t know about his loveContinue reading

Education Talk Radio: K-12 College Prep in Washington D.C. Schools

Special guests from the nation’s capital—Matthew Reif, Director of Advanced and Enriched Instruction at DC Public Schools, and enrichment resource teacher Felicia Messina-D’Haiti—discuss how they’re preparing all students for college level course work.

The unstoppable tradition of the book club

We were delighted to be included in Tracy Mumford’s article for MPR News “The Unstoppable Tradition of the Book Club.” She references the Great Books Foundation as a contributor to the initial growing popularity of book groups.

Using “Selma” to Teach Critical Thinking Skills

“If it’s current and controversial, it’s a lesson plan,” writes Liz Prather, a teacher blogger for the Center for Teaching Quality—what a great quote and certainly one we agree with. We all know engaging students is key to advancing skills, and what better way to engage them than by discussing current controversial topics? The

Extend your Shared Inquiry Expertise with Virtual Coaching

Leading effective classroom discussions requires a mixture of planning and spontaneity. Teachers must prepare complex texts, express their natural curiosity about what they read, and formulate questions based on the ideas of their students. To attain this level of expertise, teachers need lots of practice and detailed feedback on how they’re performing—and that’s exactly

Education Talk Radio: ASCD on Hiring Great Teachers

Featuring Dr. Jennifer Hindman, Assistant Director of The School University Research Network at The College of William and Mary, and co-author of The Teacher Quality Index: A Protocol for Teacher Selection (ASCD, 2006) & Handbook for Qualities of Effective Teachers (ASCD, 2004). Jennifer L. Hindman is also an educational consultant and partner in Teacher QualityContinue reading

E Is for Engage: 10 Ways to Use E-Readers to Deepen Student Reading

Did you just get a set of e-readers? Or do you want to get your students to read more deeply with the e-readers you already have? Here are 10 ways to use e-readers to maximize student engagement (and reading growth).

Escape to Tampa with Great Books!

If you are looking for a fun, intellectually challenging weekend away this winter, sign up for the Tampa Bay Great Books Council’s 10th anniversary conference! The event will be held on February 13–15, 2015, at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel, 333 First Street South, St. Petersburg, FL. The conference theme is “A Fine Arts Weekend,” and participants will discuss

Honoring Your Students’ Curiosity: What’s a Cherkasska?

We love hearing from Junior Great Books students! The following email exchange took place between a third-grade class in New York City (assisted by their teacher) and Rachel Claff, Director of K-12 programs. The class was reading “The Man Whose Trade Was Tricks,” a Georgian folktale as told by George and Helen

Good advice for the new year.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We had a great Twitter chat about David Dinkins’s speech. You can check out #DiscussMLK here! Martin Luther King is dead now, and we, the mourners and losers, are left with his dreams—with decisions to make. He is dead now, and there are no words we can

Our wish to you & yours . . .

Bringing “light, courage, and confidence” to teachers in China

We often receive enthusiastic letters from teachers new to Shared Inquiry™, but a recent letter to Susan Galbraith, one of our professional learning consultants, is our new favorite. “Susan’s ideas gave me a big shock,” wrote Moo tsing chow, an elementary school teacher in Shenzhen, China “ . . . I never taught

Great Books professional learning gave me a different outlook

Immigrant Voices panel at the Miami Book Fair was a great success!

Great Books’ event at the 2014 Miami Book Fair International drew a standing room only crowd on November 22. For this event, Immigrant Voices co-editors Achy Obejas and Megan Bayles hosted a reading and panel discussion with contributing authors Roberto G. Fernández, M. Evelina Galang, Edwidge Danticat, and Emma Ruby-Sachs.Continue reading

Using Textual Analysis to Aid Interpretation

Sometimes students have a hard time moving beyond a literal answer, especially when a story offers a literal reason for a metaphorical part of the text. Textual analysis can help students understand the significance of a passage and delve more deeply into why a character has certain reactions or behaviors.

Bro Adams, NEH Chairman, is coming to Chicago & we’ll be there!

We’re excited that Joseph Coulson, president of the Great Books Foundation, is among a small group of humanities leaders invited to participate in a Roundtable Discussion welcoming William “Bro” Adams, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to Chicago. This event, hosted by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, will be held Friday, December 12th at

Education Talk Radio: NCSS 2014

Michelle Herczog, NCSS president and director of social studies for the Los Angeles Country Office of Education, and Susan Griffin, NCSS executive director, discuss the recent NCSS conference about ‘The Civic Mission of Schools.”

Choosing K-12 Literature for Great Books Programs

I always say that the best part of being the K-12 editorial director at Great Books is that I get to read for a living. Having grown up with my nose pretty permanently stuck in a book, it’s a dream to spend much of my professional life choosing just the right texts for Junior Great Books.

Great Books teaches kids to think outside of the box

Six strategies to help students cite and explain evidence

Discussions give students an authentic reason to find and explain evidence. But if you’ve ever encountered silence after asking a student to find or explain evidence for an answer, you know the challenge of teaching students to use textual evidence meaningfully. As with any skill, students must learn it through modeling

Tackling the Misconceptions of Text-Dependent Questions

If you’re familiar with Great Books and Shared Inquiry™ you know all about the importance of text dependent questions. Ryan McCarthy, a coach with Achievement Network, wrote an informative article for the Teacher Channel about their importance and the need for teachers to be able to define and develop effective text

Textual Evidence Anchor Charts

Well-placed anchor charts are a reference for students and a tool that promotes great discussions. These 8 anchor charts will reinforce your students’ skills when it comes to finding and using textual evidence.

Diane Wolkstein: On Storytelling

Diane Wolkstein, storyteller extraordinaire, visited our Chicago office in 2013 and discussed the nature of storytelling, the human need for stories, and where the need comes from. Diane’s

Standing Down, A Few Thoughts on Veteran’s Day

Joseph Coulson, President, Great Books Foundation In World War II, my father served as a machinist on the flight crew of a B-17, first running combat missions out of England and then later making food and supply drops from an airfield in India. Twenty-four years after my father’s discharge,

Great Books Digital Media Receives the Best Oscar Around

Mike Elsey, director of digital media, was excited to attend the Celebration of Learning at Chicago’s Prescott Magnet Cluster School, but he had no idea he would return to the office with an Oscar. Mike was invited because he and the Great Books digital media team, Bill Siegel and JoshContinue reading

Talking Service Featured in Kentucky Humanities Magazine

We’re thrilled that more Kentucky veterans will participate in Talking Service this fall! The programs will take place at Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green), Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, and the Catholic Action Center in Lexington. We’re also excited that the program was featured in the fall 2014 issue of Kentucky

Miami Book Fair

It’s official! Authors Roberto G. Fernández, Edwidge Danticat, M. Evelina Galang, and Emma Ruby-Sachs will participate in a panel discussion focused on the new Immigrant Voices anthology at the Miami Book Fair. Editors Achy Obejas and Megan Bayles will lead an exciting conversation at on Saturday, November 22 at 11:30 a.m. The panel will takeContinue reading

NPR: 50 Great Teachers

NPREd kicks off a yearlong series “50 Great Teachers” by celebrating Socrates, a philosopher and teacher dear to our hearts. If you’re familiar with our Shared Inquiry™ method of learning you understand the influence Socrates had on the original Great Books movement and our current programs. His influence in K-12Continue reading

How Great Books fuses classical literature with students’ lives

Meet us at AMLE 2014

Are you going to AMLE in Nashville November 6-8? If you are, come by and visit us at booth 425! We’re excited about talking to middle school educators and learning more about your instructional needs and challenges. AMLE session topics include “Keys to School Turnaround,” Student Motivation and Engagement,” “Strategies for Differentiating Instruction,” and “Putting the Common CoreContinue reading

Education Talk Radio: How Great Literature Affects 21st Century Critical Thinking Skills

Joseph Coulson, the new president of the Great Books Foundation, talks about the importance of reading and discussing great literature, critical thinking, and how each contributes to creating communities with engaged & reflective members.

The Results Are In: Junior Great Books® Positively Impacts Students

During the 2013–2014 school year, 44 District of Columbia Schools participated in a study to determine the impact of Junior Great Books on both Text Reading/Comprehension and Book Level over the course of the school year. Of the 44 schools in the study, 27 used Junior Great Books materials andContinue reading

A New Teacher: Shared Inquiry helped me build a house of learning

Education Talk Radio: ASCD on Connected Educator Month

Ross Romano, a publicist in ASCD’s communications unit, discusses ASCD’s professional learning resources and initiatives for Connected Educator Month. As an official professional learning theme leader, ASCD is sharing free and discounted resources related to the theme throughout October and taking part in a variety of discussions about effective professionalContinue reading

Book Making 101

After reading 1,443 books to select the final 24 selections and working with multiple authors, designers, and artists to produce our new Series 3-5, our editorial and production departments were ready for a road trip. So they headed off to visit our printer, Edwards Brothers Malloy in Ann Arbor, Michigan. ThoseContinue reading

5 Mini-Lessons on Theme

Use these quick mini-lessons to teach students what theme is and how authors and artists extract a big idea: Derive Inspiration: Use an inspirational quote (find some at values.com) to define a a theme and brainstorm stories, movies, or real-life events in which you see this theme play out.

Working Together—Junior Great Books® Series 5 & ThinkIt®

It’s easy to extend critical thinking skills to nonfiction materials when you combine Junior Great Books® Series 5 with Junior Great Books ThinkIt®. Here’s how: Begin any of the Junior Great Books themes listed in the chart below by asking students the theme question and having them complete the themeContinue reading

A New Teacher: Great Books professional learning emphasized I’m learning in the classroom too

6 Ways to Assess on Theme

As the year progresses, you’ll want to know if students are able to identify theme independently. Here are six suggestions for finding out if your students are “getting it.” Use Annotation: Have students annotate a text with details, quotes, and other “golden lines” that highlight the theme.

Davenport teachers secure a grant to implement Junior Great Books

Working Together—Junior Great Books® Series 4 & ThinkIt®

It’s easy to extend critical thinking to nonfiction materials when you combine Junior Great Books Series 4 with Junior Great Books ThinkIt. Here’s how: Begin any of the Junior Great Books themes listed in the chart below by asking students the theme question and having them complete the theme introduction page of the Reader’s Journal.Continue reading

Education Talk Radio: ASCD on Professional Development

Pete Hall, former principal, ASCD consultant, and author, talks about professional development and building teachers’ capacity for success. Hall has written three books, The First-Year Principal (Rowman Littlefield, 2004), Building Teachers’ Capacity for Success: A Collaborative Approach for Coaches and School Leaders (ASCD, 2008), and Lead On! Motivational Lessons for School Leaders (Eye on Education,Continue reading

Welcome New Chairman of the Board

We’re honored to announce that James M. Reum, a retired attorney with 38 years of prominent legal and government experience, is the new Chairman of our Board of Directors. “It’s an honor to serve one of the nation’s leading educational organizations and to advance critical thinking and civic engagement for readers of all

“I’m really excited about the idea of getting kids to . . . “

Education Talk Radio: Empowering Teacher Leaders

Teacher leaders and Stefan Pryor, Commissioner of Education for the State of Connecticut, spoke to Education Talk Radio about Teach to Lead and the importance of empowering teacher leaders.

11 Tips for Teaching About Theme in Language Arts

When fourth-grade students in Becca Morris’s class start listening to R. J. Palacio’s Wonder, she looks forward to the discussion it will inspire, with questions like “What does it mean to be a true friend?” “What’s the role of the bystander in bullying situations?” and “Can we tell what aContinue reading

K-1 Interpretive Thinking Webinar

Do you use Junior Great Books Read-Aloud? If so, join our September 16 webinar to get the most out of your program. The webinar will provide strategies to help young students listen to a story, make sensible comments, and ask relevant questions.

Commemorate 9/11: Poet Against Prejudice

It’s hard to know the best way to address 9/11 at school. Consider joining BYkids and the Film Society of Lincoln Center for the world premiere of Poet Against Prejudice. This free, hour-long, live-streamed event commemorates for

Unleash the Power of Themes

To help you make the most of your students’ learning experience, Junior Great Books® Series 2-5 stories are now organized around key, age-appropriate social and emotional themes. This thematic organization provides a number of benefits for both teachers and students.

Gratitude for Generous Bequest

We’re humbled by the generosity of Philadelphia philanthropist and real-estate businessman Philip B. Lindy who bequeathed $25,000 to the Foundation. Like all contributions, a generous gift like this will help us expand our mission and programs. Mr. Lindy was a contributor to the Foundation’s annual fund, actively supported Jewish Community CentersContinue reading

Junior Great Books Down Under

Celebrating Great Books Champion B.J. Smith

The memory of B.J. Smith, a lifelong Great Books supporter, was honored with a ceremony at Usher-Collier Heights Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia on August 26. After starting a Junior Great Books group at the former R.L. Hope Elementary School, B.J. Smith and her friend Ruth Read started a Great Books group for adults thatContinue reading

Immigrant Voices on NPR

Immigrant Voices: 21st Century Stories, our newest title, has generated a lot of buzz since its release in March 2014! In addition to several positive reviews in print, the book was featured twice on National Public Radio, on WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift in mid-March and then on NPR’s Alt.Latino in earlyContinue reading

Education Talk Radio: School Climate Change

Sean T. Slade, MEd., author and director of Whole Child Programs at ASCD, spoke to Education Talk Radio about school climate change & the importance of creating a positive learning environment for students.

Classics for Kids & Parents

Reading the same book is a great way for families to connect and learn more about each other, but it can be difficult to find books both adolescents and parents will enjoy. Great Books editors Rachel Claff and Nancy Carr spoke with The Christian Science Monitor and recommended 32 classic books that can bring familiesContinue reading

Great Books Foundation Announces New President

We’re delighted to welcome Joseph P. Coulson, Ph.D., as president effective August 11, 2014. Coulson brings more than 20 years of educational experience, including teaching, administration, and curriculum development, and is also a recognized essayist, novelist, poet, and playwright.

Crow Call: Students Discussing a Story

Talking Service

Funded by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Talking Service is a reading and discussion program that uses powerful literature to help veterans in their transition back into civilian life. Participants discuss selections from Standing Down: From Warrior to Civilian, which features works ranging from Homer’sContinue reading

10 Keys to Making Professional Learning Meaningful

Chances are, as you look at your calendar of scheduled professional learning days, you aren’t overcome with excitement. Traditionally, teacher professional learning has ranged from the good (the workshop that’s actually hands-on), to the bad (the never-ending PowerPoint presentation), to the ugly (remember that one presenter . . . ). But, as the Common CoreContinue reading

Conducting Student-Centered Discussion

Every time her students get ready to talk about a piece of reading, Amber Damm, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at Clara Barton Open School of South Minneapolis, MN, arranges her classroom desks in a circle and assigns seats. As the students get settled, Damm reminds them of the expectations. “You become smarter because ofContinue reading

Tove Jansson’s 100th Birthday

August 9th marks what would have been Tove Jansson’s 100th birthday. Jansson, a visual artist, and illustrator, is revered as one of the world’s most successful children’s book writers. Her stories featuring the Moomins have been translated into more than forty languages, and millions of copies have been sold. TheContinue reading

11 Tips to Turn Every Student Into a Close Reader

Let’s face it, close reading isn’t often a skill that comes naturally. When our students get a new reading assignment, their first instinct is often to race to the finish line rather than engage deeply with a text. Getting students to slow down, engage with the text in different ways, and reflect as they readContinue reading

Distant lands, different journeys

Review of Immigrant Voices: 21st Century Stories from Printers Row Journal, April 13, 2014 by Beth Kephart Over the three days that I sat and read the 18 selections in “Immigrant Voices: 21st Century Stories,” I felt an ever-surging need to talk to somebody—really talk to somebody—about these moving and important half-dreams/whole stories. These piecesContinue reading

Develop Better Thinking Through Better Questions

You know when you are trying to start a lively class discussion about a complex book you love and all your students can come up with is basic plot points and one-line zingers like “I guess this book wasn’t so bad”? It doesn’t have to be that way. The trickContinue reading

NEH Grant Supports Veteran’s Project

The Great Books Foundation, in collaboration with the New York Council for the Humanities, is pleased to announce its receipt of a generous grant of $74,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The second of two grants from the NEH, this funding allows the Foundation to continue TalkingContinue reading

Dispelling Great Books Myths

Myths—at least the kinds that are defined as old tales—are a mixed bag when it comes to truth. Myths are stories some people need to believe in, but are largely fictional. Most of us value what myths reveal to us about the world, even as we raise our eyebrows skeptically at their details. In otherContinue reading

Faith Zavon’s Lifelong Passion for Reading—and Dance

Faith Zavon of Cincinnati, Ohio, recently called the Foundation to report that she had formed a new Great Books discussion group. Faith had been away from Great Books programs for years. “I just missed it too much,” she says. “Participating in Great Books has been the most valuable experience ofContinue reading

When Teachers Learn, Students Grow

Deep Blue Sea

One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections. The bedding was hardly able toContinue reading

Urban Life: Shoreditch

It showed a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright, raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm towards the viewer. Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather. Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which madeContinue reading

Lost in the Wilderness

Blowzy red vixens fight for a quick jump. Joaquin Phoenix was gazed by MTV for luck. A wizard’s job is to vex chumps quickly in fog. Watch “Jeopardy! “, Alex Trebek’s fun TV quiz game. Woven silk pyjamas exchanged for blue quartz. Brawny gods just flocked up to quiz and vex him. Adjusting quiver andContinue reading

Inspiration: Colours in the Sky

But I must explain to you how all this mistaken idea of denouncing pleasure and praising pain was born and I will give you a complete account of the system, and expound the actual teachings of the great explorer of the truth, the master-builder of human happiness. No one rejects, dislikes, or avoids pleasure itself,Continue reading

Inspiration: Inhaling the New

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Inspiration: Shoreditch

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Light-bulb Drink

The quick, brown fox jumps over a lazy dog. DJs flock by when MTV ax quiz prog. Junk MTV quiz graced by fox whelps. Bawds jog, flick quartz, vex nymphs. Waltz, bad nymph, for quick jigs vex! Fox nymphs grab quick-jived waltz. Brick quiz whangs jumpy veldt fox. Bright vixens jump; dozy fowl quack.

Red Venice Canal

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecatContinue reading

Inspiration: Indulge Yourself

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecatContinue reading


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecatContinue reading