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Monday, January 25, 2016

Tales of a Fifth Grade Book Discussion: Part 2-- Icebreakers and Introductions

Today was the first meeting of the fifth grade book club that I am leading with two other parents.  You can click here to bring up all of the posts in this series.

The point of these posts if for me to chronicle these discussions much like I do for adult book clubs. I figure I am going to learn a lot about being a book discussion facilitator through this weekly exercise, and if I can learn something, I am sure the rest of you will also take something useful away.

So let’s get to it.

For this first meeting the kids did not have to read anything. We simply got them together to talk abut the expectations of the group and to introduce Echo.

The kids all knew each other, so we didn’t need to do introductions. Instead, I asked them to go around and say WHY they wanted to join this lunchtime book club.  Overall it was because they like reading. Most of them also mentioned missing being part of Battle of the Books last year [a 4th grade only event at our school] and they thought this would bring back some of that fun.

After everyone had a turn sharing why they joined book club [even the 3 grownups], we started priming them for talking about books by asking each kid to share a favorite book from when they were little. The kids shared books and the memories that they have attached to those titles. One girl mentioned how much she loved when her Dad read her The Giving Tree, while another girl shared how her older sister taught her to read using Green Eggs and Ham, and my son shared the first book he ever read all by himself, Watch Out for Jabba the Hut!, and how silly and simple it seems now.

This discussion got the kids loosened up and talking to each other about books.

I then switched the conversation over to the book at hand Echo. I introduced the book by talking about the novel’s genres (historical fiction and fantasy). I asked the kids to talk about what those terms meant to them. I also read out the subject headings and we talked about those. I then read a letter by the author to readers where she shares her inspiration to writing the book.  You can find all of this documentation here in the study guide I compiled for the group.

We handed out the book and the assignments next. We are reading this book over 6 meetings. Here is the breakdown and the ground rules I came up with.
Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Monday Book Club Reading Assignments 
February 1: Pages 1-104 (Part 1 Chapters 1-9)
February 8: Pages 105-190 (Part 1 Chapters 10-26 which is the end of Part 1)
February 15: No School 
February 22: Pages 191-299 (Part 2 Chapters 1-13)
February 29: Pages 300-400 (Part 2 Chapter 14- Part 3 Chapter 3)
March 7: Pages 401-488 (Part 3 Chapters 4-13)
March 14: Pages 489-End of Book (Part 3 Chapter 14-End of book) 
Please do not read ahead so you do not accidentally spoil anything for your fellow book club members at our meetings. Come each week with the assignment completed and be ready to both share your thoughts AND listen to your fellow book club members share their thoughts. Oh, and most importantly—HAVE FUN!
They got this exact copy on a sheet of yellow paper which they cut out and taped on the inside of their books. That was a fantastic idea by one of my co-leaders!

Since we are dealing with kids in a voluntary club, I also communicated a few other things to them that I then shared with the parents (along with also sending the adults the assignments).

Here is that list:
  1. We are encouraging the kids to write in the books. They can underline words, make notes, etc... You paid for these books. They are for the kids to keep. We want them to interact with the text as much as possible while they are reading so that they are energized to share in book club.
  2. The book is almost 600 pages, BUT as we showed the kids, the pages themselves are not full sized and the type is big. So, while they have about 100 pages to read each week, it is not as much as it seems.
  3. That being said, this is a “for fun” activity. If at any time your child is feeling overwhelmed by the amount of reading, they can drop out of book club. There are no consequences here. This club should not cause any stress. The kids all shared that they were in book club because they love to read, so I think we will be fine.
  4. As you see below, we ask that you remind the kids that they are NOT supposed to get ahead. We talked about how if we read ahead, we might accidentally give something away to everyone else. Everyone agreed that spoilers would be bad
Unlike running an adult book club, with kids, it is important to keep the parents involved. If they know what is going on, they will support their children and encourage them. 

We had a little bit of time at the end, so one of the other parents had the kids look at the cover and talk about what clues this gave them as to what was going to happen in the book. This included encouraging them to talk about the meaning of the word “Echo” and how it might some into play n the story.  Those of you who lead book clubs with adults know that talking about the title is a key part of any discussion. Introducing this idea before reading a single page really did much to stimulate interest.

I think we did a good job getting the kids primed for being in a discussion and excited to read the book. But, I will have to wait and see until we meet after reading the first 100 or so pages. Will they want to discuss it? Will they have even read it? 

Tune in next week for the next installment of Tales of a Fifth Grade Book Club to find out. Even I am dying to know.

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