Cool Classics! uses classic books to connect children to a unified world of reading, art, culture, humanities and ideas. An award-winning journalist who substitute teaches in the Chicago Public Schools designed Cool Classics! to mix pedagogy and play for small groups of elementary public school students in an after-school setting.
Cool Classics, Inc. is committed to improving literacy among low-income elementary school students, expanding their sense of arts, culture and humanities, creating readers and critical thinkers, serving schools that have lost arts and culture programs and are overwhelmed by demands of test-driven curricula.
“The power of books is inestimable. Reading remains one of the skills that helps connect us to our world and the worlds of others.
I understand that many children are not exposed to classic and complex literature, nor given the opportunity to start a connection to books early in life. Our technologically dependent world doesn’t stress reading, and the books we often tout are the most common, most commercial or most politically correct texts. It has been obvious to me that a lack of reading skills divides children very early on into those who will succeed and those who are less likely to find success.
By envisioning each book as being the center of a universe, and then creating galaxies around that central text, Cool Classics! strives to show public elementary school children the importance of literature, illustrating how each book resonates with and connects to larger worlds. The ultimate goal is to transform students into devoted readers and thinkers. I am convinced that by keeping the focus on classic literature, and creating an intimate connection for the students to words and books, we transport them to alternate worlds while creating confident readers and thinkers who will contribute to our society in the most significant ways.
The pedagogy is important. We’re in a society that has dumbed things down way too much. I think the potential for intelligence is so great, and we turn our backs on it too often, so we don’t do that with these children. They read better as a result and their test scores are better. Cool Classics! is really meant to teach children to think, and to understand that the world is a complicated place, using a wonderful book that has all these different ways in which it operates. It can be a play. It can be a musical. It can be a classical music concert. It can be a conversation. It can look and sound completely different, but it always has the same values, and concept, and story, and we can talk about it, and think about it in different ways.”
– Mara Tapp, Cool Classics! Founder and Director