Saturday, March 19, 2016

Book Club of Three

Last month the children's librarian quit. She was young, hip, single, and decided that teaching English abroad was what she really wanted to do. I don't blame her--that's what I did in my twenties, too.

Daniela, the head librarian, asked me to take over the kids book club. I'm not a teacher or a librarian, but my kids and I live at the library, I'm a children's book author, and I have three kids with whom I have been reading for years.

I am busy, sure, but I have a friend who says you should say no to everything except things to which you want to say "HELL, YES!" This was a HELL, YES! activity. I love picture books and early chapter books, but middle grade fiction is my absolute favorite. Plus, I love talking about books, getting kids excited about reading, and learning what kids think about books.

Our first book club was this week. My two older kids read and I reread El Deafo by Cece Bell. This graphic novel won a Newbery honor and a host of other awards in 2015, and it is an engaging, eye-opening read in many ways for kids and adults alike.

I planned my discussion. I got my notes ready. I outlined my questions for discussions:

  • What was the book about? What is the problem in the book?
  • Do you know anyone who is deaf? How did they become deaf?
  • What did you learn about what it's like to be deaf?
  • What is the "bubble of loneliness" Cece describes? Have you ever felt this way?
  • What would your private superhero name be, and why?

I gathered my stuff for the talk, including: my laptop (so I could show a short clip of Cece Bell explaining how the phonic ear worked), a copy of the book, some blank comic strip hand outs, and my three kids.

When I got there, it was just me, my three kids, and Daniela. No one else.

It reminded me of when I poured my heart and soul and so much time into my first teacher workshop in Uttaradit, Thailand, and I waited and waited and waited for teachers to arrive--but no one did. It was humbling and embarrassing and heart-breaking.

This time, though, I didn't let it stop me. I launched into my lesson plan. I had enough kids to have a conversation, and that's exactly what we did. We talked about the book in the little side library room, talking about who is deaf in our family and why, how we're all going to be in the "bubble of loneliness" sometimes when we move to Washington and what we can do when that happens, and lot of other little things.

I hope more kids attend next month's book club. But if not, I've got a built-in trio who have a lot to say about everything, including the book of the month!


janiefahey said...

I love that you kept on going! You obviously have a great spirit and positivity, something we probably all need more of.

Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski said...

I loved the line about "Hell YES!" And I'll remember that! I love that you carried on. I think a book club for kids is awesome. Was it advertised in the schools too?

Cindy said...

Some of my favorite discussions are book discussions with my children. I'm glad you got to enjoy that even though that wasn't the plan. And thanks for the book recommendation; I think we'll have to look for it soon!

Jennifer Laffin said...

Good for you for carrying on! You picked the perfect book. I hope you have more young readers with you next month, but if not, you can't go wrong with these discussions with your own kiddos.

Unknown said...

Well done! Your kids will never forget this first book club; and maybe others will find out what they're missing and join you next time.

Beverley Baird said...

I wish I had a few "Hell Yes" experiences right now. Loved your slice and your determination to just keep going. All the best next month.