10 Resources for Literary Learning in Western MA

Readers Rejoice! Community-Based Educational Resources for Literary Learning Abound

Luckily for literature lovers, western Massachusetts is a treasure trove of opportunities to engage in community-based learning about literature, literary history, and the process of creating writing that is inspired by a local community or the local landscape. Made up of landmarks, historic homes, museums, trails, and real-life human beings, western Massachusetts’ connections to the world of literature are strong.


Berkshire Gardens- The Mount, Edith Wharton's Home, Lenox, MA; photo credit David Dashiell- FlowersHome to beautiful hills and winding rivers (with quaint towns nestled amongst them), Massachusetts’ Berkshire region has been a favorite locale for artists and authors alike for centuries. Among the most notable literary greats to call the Berkshires home is Edith Wharton, whose self-designed home The Mount now serves both as a monument to Wharton’s career and as a year-round cultural center. Located in Lenox, The Mount offers opportunities to learn about Wharton’s remarkable literary achievements (40+ books in 40 years and a Pulitzer Prize), experience art and cultural events, and to learn about life in the early 1900’s.

Arrowhead, PittsfieldIn nearby Pittsfield, Herman Melville’s Arrowhead offers opportunities to learn about the author’s American Renaissance career. Made up of Melville’s historic home, beautiful grounds, and a working farm, Arrowhead offers opportunities to learn not only about Melville’s life and significant works, but the lives of all those living in the Berkshires during the 19th century.

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Family Friendly Fun at Easthampton BookFest

Community-Based Literacy Opportunities!

Celebrate all things local and book-related at the first annual Easthampton BookFest! Created by Easthampton City Arts+, and supported by countless literary folks from the community, the event is chock-full of book- and story-themed events that encourage learning and creativity. This is an opportunity that is not to be missed!

Residents of western Massachusetts suffer no shortage of independent bookstores, and there are wonderful authors and illustrators residing throughout. Easthampton City Arts+ – along with a great many local business, artists, and authors – celebrates the region’s rich literary culture with the first annual Easthampton BookFest! Held on Saturday, April 11, 2015, at locations all over Easthampton, the event highlights local authors and illustrators, as well as storytellers, bookbinders, translators, zine artists, and book-centric locations throughout the city.

Made up of many different independent workshops, presentations, hands-on activities, celebrations, performances, and other happenings, Easthampton BookFest will take place from 10am-10pm, filling the city with all things literary all day long. Read the rest of this entry »

Vocabulary Parade: The Personality of Words Brought to Life

Looking beyond the definition and putting essence into your word

Students at Littleville Elementary School in Huntington, MA, created costumes that sent hundreds of words marching through the building just before school let out this summer!  Over 250 students, teachers and staff took part in this year’s parade. –“This celebration is a great way for children to expand their vocabulary, and gives them words they can use in their Writer’s Workshop,” said Principal Megan Coburn.

Looking for ways to support children in adding new words to their vocabulary? Dress up your child’s inner dictionary – literally! Inspired by children’s author Debra Frasier’s story Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster, children everywhere have been creatively solidifying their understanding of big, new, and necessary words by dressing up as a definition and joining together for a Vocabulary Parade!

Just like in Frasier’s story, kiddos can use new words as inspiration for a creative costume. Working to determine what a word would look like if its essence could be worn challenges young readers and writers to think critically about what it is that a word truly means. Even words with definitions that seem simple to understand (or simple to dress as) can become complex, well-though-out projects costumes. Searching for meaning other than a dictionary definition can help add depth to the activity, too. Try working on a word like “dinosaur” – sure, making a T-Rex costume would certainly convey what a dinosaur might look like, but we might also say that a corded rotary phone is a dinosaur, or that a DOS computer is a dinosaur. Read the rest of this entry »

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