Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta, Georgia, first piloted Junior Great Books® in their lower school (grades 1–5) in 2020. The pilot was such a success that more than 30 teachers have completed Shared Inquiry Essentials training since then, bringing Junior Great Books to about 1,200 students across their lower, middle, and upper schools covering grades K–12.

Teachers, students, and administrators are all committed to the program, and they enjoy the collaborative environment Junior Great Books creates. Here is what they have to say in their own words!

See what Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School has to say about the benefits of Junior Great Books programs and the Shared Inquiry method of learning!

I think that Junior Great Books is helping me be active, participate, communicate, and engage in more conversations. When we engage in discussions about an interesting text, me and my classmates will read more to figure out what it is actually about.

—Mackenzie
Sixth Grade Student

The way the Great Books Foundation has set up their approach with Shared Inquiry invites all sorts of different contributions from students. Students know that they can bring something from their personal store of experience and connect it to a text, and in contributing that to the discussion in the classroom they can be validated. If you’re passionate about learning and you’re looking for something that’s going to nurture your students’ curiosity, spark their engagement, and help them wonder aloud with one another, then I would say give Shared Inquiry a try. You have really nothing to lose!

—Erik Vincent
Director of Humanities and Global Studies

I think Junior Great Books is helping me learn how to join in the conversation with respectful dialogue. I would tell other students that the most important thing when participating is to never feel like you’re going to be judged for what you say. Always be honest and open, and never hold back—because it’s learning.

—McVey P.
Seventh Grade Student

The professional development has been instrumental. This is a concept that we’ve been using, but having Great Books take the time to explain it has really allowed us to intentionally embed Shared Inquiry within our classroom. That intentional embedding has made it all the more valuable.

—Elizabeth Scholz
Sixth-Grade Dean of Students

Participating in a Junior Great Books discussion really means a lot to me because I feel like my voice is heard by the whole class. I gain some ideas from the teacher and the class, and we can share with each other what our opinions are.

—Matt
Ninth Grade Student

I think the Junior Great Books program is different from other books that I’ve used, because it really does give children the time to reread the story. They are shorter stories, so we’re really able to hone in on what’s important in the text and see if we can analyze the author’s purpose in a story. I don’t feel that other programs I’ve used in the past have really gone as in-depth with the material.

—Tania Lehman
Third-Grade Lead Teacher

At our school we talk about being an inclusive community where every person is valued, respected, and heard. With Shared Inquiry, we truly are walking that talk. I also appreciate the professional growth I have seen among our teachers. Shared Inquiry inspires our teachers to see students—and the learning dynamic—through new eyes.

—Paul Barton
Head of School

Learn More

Would you like to see your students fully engaged in their reading and discussing texts openly and honestly with their peers? Would you like teachers to be committed to inquiry-based learning, welcoming students to provide evidence for their interpretations of rich fiction and nonfiction texts? Find out more about Junior Great Books!