Our first read aloud book club meeting

25 Jan

Last year I received a grant to run some after school parent child book clubs. The grant allowed me to buy the books (and let the families keep them), snacks and craft materials.

I had a Spanish group in which we read (in Spanish) a  A Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson and The Color of My Words by Lynn Joseph, a boys’ group where we read  War Horse by Michael Morpugo, a girls group that read The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale,  and  a K-1 group that read  The World According to Humphrey   by Betty G. Birney.  Except for the Spanish group that met four times, the other groups only met twice.  I wish I could have read multiple books with each group, but time didn’t allow for it.

In December, I was sitting in a Junior Great Books workshop and had this brilliant idea to have a children’s lit book group for my staff.  My principal thought it was a great idea.  I presented it to the staff and sixteen people signed up, to my joy & surprise.

It’s always a little nerve-wracking, presenting to adults, but I think our first meeting yesterday went well. My plan is to have a picture book & a chapter book for each meeting, that connect in some way. Ideally, any grade level can use either, but thinking something for k-1 and something for 2-5 teachers.  This month, we read  The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead.

9780061992254         9781596434028

Both were very well received. A lot of people cried at Ivan, and much of our discussion focused on it. We talked about the simplicity of the language used to explore complex ideas, making it accessible to many ages, reading and language levels.  Our school is majority minority, with over 60% of kids receiving ELD services, and about 80% receive free/reduced lunch.We talked a lot about crying in front of kids when reading and presenting tough lives and ideas to kids who have tough lives and have to face tough situations. One of our school meeting agreements is that sometimes there is no resolution and Ivan sort of fell into that category.  Although most people said they would & could read it aloud, a couple were still not sure because the themes are so tough.

Although Amos had less air time, he got more concrete discussion. ELD and primary teachers talked about using it for sequencing and prediction.  There lots of great writing ideas: select another animal and decide what Amos might do with him, write your own story of animals you would hang out with, to name but two.  We also spent time discussing the wonderful illustration, now the animals look realistic, but have such personality, how Amos’ posture imitates the animals, and the use of soft color and pencil lines.

I’m waiting until after the ALA Youth Media Awards on Monday to select our books for next month. We’ll use that meeting to talk about the books and how where  to find good books to read aloud

 

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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