What's a (homeschool) lit group and how does one work?
Every group's different, but generally:
All homeschoolers. Homeschooled teens are better readers with better attitude. Groups that admit non-homeschoolers face extra difficulties.
All teens. With one exception; fairly often a parent leads the group.
Classic literature. Which is what, by the way? Here's one definition:
A classic is something that everyone wants to have read and nobody wants to read. - Mark Twain, The Disappearance of Literature
Some people might define classic literature like this:
Boring stuff that's impossible to understand and I hate! - Anonymousor worse. Serious definitions also exist, of course. You may already have your own definition of classic literature: "Hard to read." It's true: the language of these books is different from everyday language, and it takes some work to get used to it. Once you do, you can enjoy the stories, the intriguing ideas, the parts that outrage you, or make you cry, or groan, or gnash your teeth in anger or despair, or laugh out loud, or even exult.
How to get used to the language? Read the books and discuss 'em with the other teens. That's what the group is for, and what it does.
"Teenagers urgently need books that speak with relevance and immediacy to their real lives and to their unique emotional, intellectual, and developmental needs and that provide a place of commonality of experience and mutual understanding, for in so doing, they bring the outsiders out of the darkness and into the light of community.""Urgently needed?" Maybe not. But, some teen literature, like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Diary of Anne Frank, really should be read. So should other, more current teen reads. Generally easier and shorter than the classics, teen reads can be a break from the heavy reads like Dickens, the Bronte sisters, or Dostoevsky.
- Michael Cart, author of From Romance to Realism: 50 Years of Growth and Change in Young Adult Literature. Quote from Literature for Young Adults, 8th edition, by Nilsen and Donelson.
"Modern Classics," and other reads
Besides classics and teen literature, groups read and discuss modern authors like Steinbeck and Hemingway (whose works are sometimes called "Modern Classics"), popular fiction, and recent works.
From time to time groups read poetry, essays, articles, and other non-book things.
Groups try for a balance that suits the group(for example): a mixture of heavy and light, new and old, work and fun.
Speaking of fun...
Lit Groups have a second purpose - to be a safe, encouraging place to hang out with other teen homeschoolers, talk, enjoy, goof off, and just be yourselves and have fun. A proven formula: the book discussion lasts only an hour; the last hour of Lit Group is for socialization. Shy? That first hour of Lit Group is a great icebreaker. After an hour of talking with, questioning, and interacting with each other, it's easier to keep on interacting. It's a good way to get to know people, and to have fun.
Besides the social hour, it is good to plan and enjoy extra activities, generally fun, and more or less tied in to books being read. You can read about some examples here.