Reluctant students of the classics, lend me your earbuds!

Greg Toppo:

Kids, remember this name: Jenny Sawyer.
She may soon be American education’s next “It” girl. Actually, make that its first and only “It” girl.
Only 24 and barely out of college, Sawyer has undertaken an audacious task: writing and shooting, with the help of a small band of filmmakers, more than 1,000 free, one-minute videos that help students understand and enjoy commonly assigned classic works of literature.
It’ll take two years, thousands of hours on a Boston soundstage and countless outfit changes for Sawyer, the only person appearing on camera.
Her website,, is scheduled to go live Tuesday with the first of 100 or so videos covering 10 universally loved (read: hated) works that teenagers have struggled to appreciate since English teachers first walked the Earth. Titles include: The Scarlet Letter, Of Mice and Men, Great Expectations, Hamlet and To Kill a Mockingbird.