At Words Alive, our goal is to help the students in our programs make connections between books and themselves, others, and the world. By learning that books have implications beyond being "just another school assignment", we hope to help students and families fall in love with reading and become life-long learners.
One way we accomplish this is through the Arts Component of our Adolescent Book Group (ABG). Each year, ABG students participate in a program-wide literacy and arts project that enhances the reading experience and encourages students to think critically about themes in the book and their own environment.
This year’s project, called "The Love You Give," is a response to Angie Thomas' #1 bestselling novel The Hate U Give. The project creatively weaves the book’s message and themes into a communal wood sculpture designed by artist Isaias Crow, facilitated by Words Alive volunteers and produced by students who attend Juvenile Court and Community Schools.
If you're an avid reader of our blog, you'll know that we recently published a piece about the connection between art and literacy. A study was done on students who participated in the “Learning Through the Arts” (LTA) Program at the Guggenheim Museum. Over 200 students and teachers participated in the program and were later tested and interviewed to monitor their progress. A few notable outcomes came about from this program, as noted by ArtsEdSearch:
There were increases in critical thinking and literacy skills among students who participated in the LTA Program.
LTA students provided interview responses using language associated with higher grade levels and with more words than those who did not go through the program.
All of this explains why we continue to coordinate this project year after year. This study, and others before it, supports the idea that art education teaches more than just art: it helps to expand critical thinking and language development. We know first hand how meaningful this project is to our students, and how beneficial it is to some of them to approach learning in a different way.
One of our ABG volunteers, Allison Keltner, had the following to say about facilitating this year's project at 37ECB:
After nearly a full semester working with the students at 37ECB, I looked forward to the Arts Component project for The Hate U Give. Each week, we saw a range of participation levels and interest from the students—from those who would barely utter a word to those who gladly took charge of the discussion—and I expected (hoped!) that most would be into the art project.
I wondered, week to week, what the students were really getting out of the discussions we were leading. Some that would be really into it one week wouldn’t speak up the next; others seemed constantly distracted. But in every session, I was always impressed at least once by someone’s insight or reaction to the book. What I enjoyed most about the Arts Component was seeing something from every student. I was thrilled to see their artwork and hear how each related their piece to the theme of bravery.
I had a hunch that at least a couple kids would thoroughly enjoy getting to express themselves in a different way. And surprise, surprise: once we set up the paints, two of the quietest students immediately picked a spot together away from the rest of the group and settled down to work. They were so intent, and took such care and thought in perfecting their pieces, that we had to give them extra time the following week to finish painting.
Jessica Fryman, our Teen Services Program Manager, had the following to say about this year's project:
“The arts project really brings the book alive for the kids. It’s really special to see students connect to what they’re reading and be able to express themselves.”
A reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 8 at San Diego Art Institute, 1439 El Prado in San Diego. You won't want to miss the chance to see these inspiring pieces! The San Diego Art Institute is also hosting a community art day, which will showcase the exhibit and artwork from other Title 1 schools from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 9.
We hope to see you there to celebrate art and literacy with us!