About a month ago, I wrote a post about my book club fails. I ended this year, however, with my most successful book club yet! I decided to have an all girls book club discuss Pack of Dorks by Beth Vrabel. This book deals with friendships, family, and relationship themes that connected so well with my fourth and fifth grade girls.
I had many more girls “apply” for the book club than I had openings, but I spoke with the classroom teachers about which girls would benefit the most and contribute to our book club, and we were able to form a solid group of girls interested in reading and completing the book.
Throughout the book I Tweeted pictures of our book club conversations. We schedule a public librarian visit, and she brought us origami paper and instructions on making our own origami wolf. The author reached out to us through Twitter and commented and replied to our posts, and this gave the girls increased motivation to participate and complete the book.
To close out our book club, we were able to Skype with the author, Beth Vrabel. She includes a question and answer section at the back of our books, but the girls had many, many more questions for her. They asked about her life as a writer, upcoming books, and her inspiration for the story we finished. It was a phenomenal question / answer session, and the girls in my book club absolutely loved it.
In reflecting on what made this book club run more smoothly than the previous ones, here’s what I did differently:
- Made expectations very clear before anyone even signed up for book club regarding how much we will be reading, how much students are expected to contribute, and the commitment to finishing the book and staying in book club.
- Kept the book club to six weeks – meeting twice a week and reading the book from beginning to end within that time including the post-book Skype lunch.
- Posted and clear book club norms that we stayed with throughout our book club session.
- Sharing outside interaction regarding the book with the public library and with the author to boost motivation and engagement in the text.
- Having a closing celebration – even without an author Skype – I think celebrating our time together made this a more meaningful and memorable book club experience.
In an effort to expand what I’m doing with book clubs, I’ve written a foundation grant to gain more book club titles for the upcoming Mark Twain nominees, including some PlayAway audio versions, to be able reach more of the students who may not otherwise be able to read such long texts.
I’m hoping my lunch duty / lunch schedule will allow for book clubs more days of the week, and the English Language Learning specialist and I have discussed teaming up to have a book club with a more diverse group of students. I’m excited about what I envision for my 2017-2018 book clubs!