IU High School Reads!

Our Philosophy

Reading and writing are social practices; while a person may study a book or compose a paper in a solitary space, they are hardly alone. In other words, reading is at least a two-person activity. So is writing. Any time a person sits down with a book or a pen, they bring with them their past experiences, current expectations, and future goals. All that has happened before and all that they wish contribute in some way – however small – to interpretation and composition of an idea, of a scene, of a journey. Moreover, as the pages turn and the ink runs, the actor engages with the authors of texts they are reading and referencing, thereby interacting with others’ experiences, expectations, and goals.

As one reads and writes, they draw on the world around them to understand complex concepts and draw connections from their own lives to new ideas. In this way, reading and writing are reciprocal and integrated practices. That is, one does not exist without the other, and each practice is bolstered as a person hones their literacy and composition skills. This shifts the idea of “literacy” from simple decoding and reproducing of symbols to complete an assignments toward understanding how we know what we know. Reading and writing in this broad sense is much more complex than finishing an essay to meet the requirements of a simple rubric; it means forming strong arguments, articulating ideas, and developing a voice that is unique and that can be heard above the bustle of the everyday white noise. Reading and writing are reflective, inquisitive processes that can empower a person with the ability to communicate and participate in society as active, critically-minded, informed citizens of the world.

IU High School Book Club

Over the summer, we will be posting our thoughts about The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, and will invite you to do the same. We hope you will join our discussion! Email iuhs@indiana.edu and check this page to receive updates about our discussions. 

Book Summary (from Amazon.com):

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world.

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.