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My Saturday Book Club

I attended the New York State Library Association Youth Services Section 2014 Spring conference a few weeks ago and went to a session called "Essentials of Book Blogging for Youth." But, alas, it wasn't about book blogging. Instead, it was about blogs we should be reading. Essentially the presenter gave us a list of blogs and then told us that blog readers like to read lists.

What the heck, I thought, I'll post a list. So, here are the books my fourth and fifth grade book club has read, with some notes.

1. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (May 2013)
This Newbery Medal winner is one of my all-time favorite books, so I gave it to all the kids as a gift for joining the club. It promoted a great discussion about time travel and got a few of the kids interested in reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. A great start. I think I had 15 kids for the first meeting.
2. A Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff (June 2013)
I let the kids pick the second book and they choose this. That was a mistake on my part. I really like this book, but it was probably too difficult for some of them. Happily, the kids who did read it, enjoyed it and we had a good discussion about the our talents and fate. The book was long-listed for the National Book Award.
3. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (Sept. 2013)
Another Newbery Medalist, this book was a hit and I was able to weave in a discussion about captive animals, what animals might think about and get the kids to take out non-fiction books afterward. I also shared pictures and news stories of the real-life Ivan. They enjoyed that.
4: Skinnybones by Barbara Park (Oct. 2013)
My first Barbara Park book! It was a favorite too due to the humor. We discussed bullying and whether laughing your way out of troublesome situations is a good plan.
5. Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead (Nov. 2013)
I knew this book might be a little difficult for the kids (mostly 4th graders at this point), but I wanted them to read it. It's another favorite of mine. After the discussion we talked art, then made pointillist "paintings" with markers. (The protagonist is named after Georges Seurat.)
6. A Warmer World by Caroline Arnold (Jan. 2014)
As part of a holiday gift to my kids, I sent them each a copy of this book. My group is now down to 9 solid members and membership has its benefits. This was our first non-fiction book and it also led to a good discussion on conservation and climate change.
7. Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis (Feb. 2014)
I thought we needed some light fare, so we read this absolutely silly book. Turned out it was great for a book discussion because Timmy Failure -- the "hero" -- does so many absolutely ridiculous things. My kids all knew better.
8. Pie by Sarah Weeks (March 2014)
I think I might have picked this as an excuse to have pie for breakfast (my group meets 10:30 on Saturday mornings). We were able to talk about what we might be when we grow up -- where our talents and callings lie. It was also interesting to see kids eat chocolate cream pie.
9. & 10. We the Children and Fear Itself by Andrew Clements (April and May 2014)
I wanted to start a series with the kids. I planned it so that we would read the first two books in this series and then, if they liked it, they could finish the series over the summer. So far, so good. The first book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so the kids were glad to get the next in the series. Because the kids in the book find a letter written to the future, we wrote our own letters about life now to kids 100 years from now who might find the notes in the library.

I hadn't planned to meet in June, but my kids are insisting that we do. I'm not sure yet what we'll read, but (surprise!) I have another list of books I'm thinking about:

1. Babe the Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith (might be fun to follow this up with the movie sometime during the summer)
2. The Borrowers by Mary Norton (another one that has a good movie)
3. The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (I'm seeing a trend: another movie!)
4. The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies (another series starter)
5. Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm (good pick for historical fiction)
6. Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman (never read it, but I have a librarian friend who loves it)

Of course, I'm always open to suggestions.


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