The Literary Freedom Project believes that cultural identity is a fundamental cornerstone in the development of smart, creative, and focused young people. These qualities, on which families and communities are sustained and strengthened, are honed, in part, through a mix immersive reading –academic, vocational, and pleasure.
With professional instruction from a teaching-artist the We Are Family Book Club & Writing Workshop engages in a literary “call and response” by reading, discussing, then writing short stories, essays, or poems based on the reading selection. An emphasis will be placed on reading comprehension, creative and expository writing.
The key to making WAFBC work as a stepping stone to stronger community reading is to have participants paired with “family–fathers and sons, sisters and brothers, uncles and nieces, etc. It’s family, supplemented with instruction, that will create a culture of reading for pleasure.
Participants in WAFBC will read a pre-selected title chosen by a committee of educators and writers. The first book is Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas. Potential future titles include Where A Nickel Costs A Dime by Willie Perdomo; The Beautiful Struggle by TaNehisi Coates; Brown Girl Brownstone by Paule Marshall; The Known World by Edward Jones; and Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc. Selections will include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and reflect such urban sensibilities as race, gender, and economics. It’s important that the selections connect to the urban communities in which the workshops are scheduled to take place.
Each book club/writing workshop will meet once per week for 8 weeks. Ideally, workshops will be limited to 16 participants –from age 13 and up. When available, the author of the selected book will join the final session to interact with the families and make real the idea of writing as a viable vocational option for the young people and instill in the parents that reading is an important tool for success. The discussions will help meet our mission to increase cultural identity, promote reading, and strengthen literacy. A Facebook group component will also be created to facilitate dialogue between meetings.
Founded in 2004, The Literary Freedom Project presents creative ways to keep literature and books valuable sources of knowledge and creativity. Our annual educator’s conference, Mosaic Literary Conference, and professional-development workshops provide attendees with literary arts lesson plans and instruction based on the content and editorial focus of Mosaic Literary Magazine. Mosaic is a tri-annual magazine exploring the literary arts, and serves as an important resource for readers, educators, and librarians interested in writers of the African Diaspora.