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Holly Van Houten

Students will receive instruction from Holly Van Houten, who has decades of experience preparing young writers with the skills they need to succeed. In addition to teaching Literature and Writing at The HuckleBerry Center for Creative Learning, in Valencia, California since 2009, Holly taught in the USC Freshman Writing Department for 10 years, while completing her Ph.D. coursework in English and American Literature.  Holly has also taught in the English departments at Pepperdine University, California State University, Northridge, and California State University, Long Beach. She has helped young scholars become confident writers for over 30 years and has successfully prepared students of all abilities for college-level writing.

Read, Write Now

An Interactive-Online Literature & Writing Class



Ages: 8-10


The books we read in childhood often stay with us forever, so it’s important that those books include some high-quality classics. This class offers students a chance a fun opportunity to read along with their peers and focus on improving their own reading and writing skills as they move towards more difficult materials.


This FALL QUARTER, our books will include The Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White; The Cricket in Times Square, by George Seldon; and Frindle, by Andrew Clements.


During our WINTER QUARTER, we will read The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame; Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater; and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald.



Then for our SPRING QUARTER, we will enjoy Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie; The Indian in the Cupboard, by Lynne Reed Banks; and The Lemonade War, by Jacqueline Davies.


Even if students have read these novels in the past, discussing them with friends will make them all the more memorable, and organizing their ideas through their writing will help students hone their critical thinking skills. There is so much to learn from reading and re-reading engaging works of literature, filled with adventure, humor and learning. The class will also do craft projects and group activities related to the novels we will be reading this year!


Whether a student is an enthusiastic writer or a bit reluctant, this class will strengthen skills and lay the foundation for future success. Learning to write well involves mastering the parts of an essay before building towards the whole. This class is designed to teach students how to construct and structure solid academic paragraphs and give them lots of practice in planning, developing, focusing and controlling powerful paragraphs with strong topic sentences. Over the year, students will practice a variety of writing strategies, including description, exposition, definition, cause and effect, narration, persuasion, analysis, summary, etc. The workshop structure of this course will provide students with an audience to make their writing more meaningful and encourage class discussion. They’ll receive feedback from each other, as well as from me in class and learn revision techniques to help improve their writing skills. These workshops not only allow students an important opportunity for feedback but allow them to be immersed in the writing of their peers as well. This requires each student to sharpen his or her own analytical skills as they consider how others may improve their essays. Over the course of the semester each student will complete several writing assignments and critique many more in class – a process that will improve their writing, whatever their current level, by leaps and bounds.


Our classes will take place each week through live, interactive, and engaging online sessions, and we will utilize a variety of tools to enhance our classroom discussions and encourage collaboration (breakout rooms, polls/quizzes, whiteboards, and screen sharing). The Zoom video platform will allow us to meet like a regular classroom for lecture and discussion purposes as we immerse ourselves in wonderful literature and the writing process.


NOTE: There are no Materials Fees for this class, but parents must purchase the required books for their students. Holly will provide Amazon Purchase Links for the chosen edition of each.


Holly Van Houten

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