Students’ 20 Time Project Inspires Project Lit Book Club

A Tennessee Public High School inspires grass roots movement


Elizabeth Ward

Members of the Project Lit are excited about their first novel, Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give.”

Allison Woods, Assistant Editor

In September 2018, Harleton High School started a new program called Project Lit Book Club. This club is for all bookworms to come together and have discussions about likes, dislikes, feelings, emotions, and more about the chosen novel that’s read. Harleton isn’t the origin of this club, however.

Last year Allison Woods and Madison David focused their year-long English projects on getting more kids to read.  At the same time English teacher Mrs Ward, an active Twitter user, stumbled upon the Project Lit Community.  Schools from all around the nation have come together to share their love of deciphering and digging through the text to find answers and opinions, and all credit goes to Maplewood High School. An English class and their teacher started a grassroots book club in Nashville, Tennessee in 2016 and it peaked Ward’s interest. The Project Lit Clubs can be found in 40 states and in 300 schools.

“My mission in life is to get kids reading again for the love of reading instead of because they have to for a test.  I grew up with parents who read to me, had teachers who promoted independent reading in class, and became an avid reader after leaving school, ” Ward explained. “I wanted that experience for the students I teach.  Reading helps create empathetic human beings–something I think we are lacking in today’s society.”

Woods and David shared their love of reading and met with Ward to begin planning what is now known as Project Lit Harleton.

On September 13, 2018, the club had their very first meeting during break in Mrs Ward’s room. The club currently has 14 students participating. After the tough decision of choosing between 10 books, they finally came to an agreement on The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

The Hate U Give was published on February 28, 2017, and is about how a girl named Starr balances her life out between two worlds. Starr is a black high school girl who goes to an all-white prep school but lives in a run-down neighborhood where drug deals and gangs are just as frequent as street lights. After her childhood best friend, Khalil, gets shot by a police officer, all people can talk about is his death, and of course, the only living person who can share what happened is Starr.

Though this story is a work of fiction, it highlights real-life situations going on in the world today. Double standards, police brutality, and pressure of publicity are all real-world problems that deserve to be discussed. That’s the whole purpose of Project Lit: to share thoughts and opinions and maybe make somewhat of a change.

“I hope that our club cannot only enjoy reading important young adult novels but also start a community service project like reading to kids or collecting books for families who can’t afford to have them at home.  As a former elementary teacher, I know the importance of having kids being exposed to books,” Ward said.

The book club hopes to finish the first novel before the release date of the movie, October 5, 2018. They want to meet up to see the movie and then discuss the differences and similarities between the two. 

It’s not too late to join! The Harleton Chapter is growing and can never have enough readers! If you’re interested in joining, go to @projectlitHarleton on Twitter to follow updates or contact Mrs Ward, David, or Woods.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, though. Project Lit isn’t for your fellow peers to judge you on your opinions or to look good on a college application. This club is a safe space to empower readers, encourage leadership skills for young learners, and to inspire future writers and educators. This is something to be taken seriously. If you’re just looking for something to pass the time, this club may not be for you,” Wilson said.

If you want to learn more about the origins or intentions of Project Lit, go to or follow them @ProjectLitComm on Twitter to stay updated!


Hope to see you there!