Saint Louis University

First-Year Summer Reading Group Discussion Leader Guidelines

Little Princes was selected as the 2014 First-Year Summer Reading book because of the book's relation to the University's mission of service to others and social equality. Additional resources for faculty, staff and students are on the First-Year Summer Reading website to encourage further learning.

The Mission of Saint Louis University is the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity. The University seeks excellence in the fulfillment of its corporate purposes of teaching, research and community service. It is dedicated to leadership in the continuing quest for understanding of God's creation, and for the discovery, dissemination and integration of the values, knowledge and skills required to transform society in the spirit of the Gospels. As a Catholic, Jesuit University, the pursuit is motivated by the inspiration and values of the Judaeo-Christian tradition and is guided by the spiritual and intellectual ideals of the Society of Jesus.

Dialogue Facilitator:

  • Each group will have a faculty or staff member as the primary discussion leader.
  • There will also be a Resident Advisor, Commuter Assistant, Transfer Mentor, or Learning Community Mentor in each group as well. Please utilize the RA, CA, TM, or LC Mentor  in your group discussion room to assist with the dialogue.

Setting the Space:

  • Arrange chairs in circle, if possible. This allows everyone to have eye contact with everyone else and makes it difficult to avoid being part of the discussion.
  • The space should be one where people from all backgrounds feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on the book as well as information about their personal background.
  • Set the rules for the group. Discuss that this is a safe space where the group will be respectful and listen to each other. Ask the group to not interrupt each other.
  • Let the students know they may be asked to talk about their faith and values today with the group who may not necessarily share the same beliefs or values. Ask the students to suspend judgment.
  • Remind them to seek clarification if they don't understand. No question is stupid. Don't expect others to know everything about all faiths and traditions.
  • Ask the students to use "I" statements so that they own their opinions and thoughts. Challenge everyone to participate in the dialogue, but that they don't have to answer every discussion question.
  • Encourage the students to share to their comfort level. Remind them that things discussed in the group stay within the group. Everything is confidential.
  • Ask the group if they have anything to add to the safe space guidelines. Ask the students to please be respectful of one another's opinions and values in the room, as this is a safe space.

Discussion Questions:

  • Please utilize the provided discussion questions (to be provided later in the spring) to lead your group in a dialogue around the themes in the book. The questions were designed with the assistance from a Jesuit, but please feel free to integrate additional questions based on how your group discussion evolves.
  • Feel free to be flexible with the discussion questions. You may have found additional themes you want to explore with the group.
  • Encourage the students to continue their conversation with each other over the course of the school year.
  • Remind the students of the additional supplementary resources on the First-Year Summer Reading website that can help them explore the book themes.

Ideas to keep in mind:

  • Students are often most interested in discussing their own identity and how the book relates to them as individuals.
  • Ask students to relate to the topic directly, encouraging them to bring their own experiences to bear.
  • Allow questions to grow organically from the discussion. 
  • Don't be surprised when a question misfires. Ask it again in a different way.
  • Remember to go beyond your own "comfort level" when waiting for a response--you'll find students will produce thoughtful responses if you give them sufficient time.
  • Summarize-or ask the students to summarize-the discussion from time to time during the session (since this provides a sense of accomplishment and helps prevent a return to old issues).

Wrap Up:

  • Thank the group for participating in the dialogue. If there were any concerns that need to be followed up with then contact the Student Involvement Center at or 314-977-2805.
  • Ask them to consider what steps they could make as a community if they feel called to serve.
  • Remind them to attend the SLU Involvement Fair and the SLU Community Service Fair during the Fall semester for both involvement and service opportunities.
  • Remind the students that the author will be on campus later in the Fall semester.
  • Encourage students to participate in the First-Year Summer Reading Essay Contest.
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