Following Through on Book Clubs, Part 2

In a post back in November, I shared my hopes for a new Windows & Mirrors book club that was kicking off that month at our school, with The Hate U Give as our first read. I am happy to share now that it was a success! We opened the library and provided pizza during both lunch periods, and had eighteen participants in total. While readers munched on their pizza, I played a video featuring Angie Thomas talking about her inspiration for the book, and then read aloud a lengthier piece on the same. I had the publisher’s discussion guide with me, but really didn’t need it. After eating lunch the readers enjoyed casually talking about the characters and moments that resonated with them, the parts that made them angriest, the book’s humor, and how they identified with the relationships among characters. In both meetings conversation spread to memories of learning about Emmett Till in Middle School and viewing that particular image for the first time.

Our Upper School readers loved this book. It was a strong first choice to start things off, being a pretty new book that has generated plenty of buzz with relevance to students and a movie on the horizon. It didn’t hurt that we had some readers ready to go – The Hate U Give was one of our Upper School Summer Reading options in 2017, and it is on this year’s county Reading Olympics list, so when it came to extracurricular reading time busy Upper Schoolers could cover more than one base with this book.

Since this book club is a collaboration between the library and our Global Diversity Council, the GDC faculty leader and I talk over book choices and logistics. We agree that student input on book choices would be a good thing, but to keep the ball rolling and get a few copies of the next book before winter break we chose the second book ourselves. This month we’re reading Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee. This choice allows us to open up this session to Middle School students and reveal new windows and mirrors.

Things that seem important so far:

  • Collaboration with another campus group. Many of the readers are also involved in the GDC, so they are able to maximize and diversify their participation in that as well as help publicize the book club.
  • We have been fortunate to be able to order a few copies of the books to circulate among interested readers over school breaks and leading up to the meetings. All copies of Outrun the Moon, including the library’s hardcover, eBook, and audiobook copies, were claimed within the first two days of the announcement and a few have come back and gone out again. Being able to provide access to a few copies is simple but important.
  • One of our ESL teachers has offered extra credit for participating!
  • I tend to err on the side of over-ordering when it comes to food, but it turned out two slices of pizza per person was enough.

Last week a student asked how she could get on the “selection committee” for the book club, so students are engaged in this concept and thinking of titles themselves. I created a Google Form to get the GDC members’ input on a selection with an LGBTQ focus to coincide with Day of Silence in April.

This morning I overheard a student tour guide in the library telling prospective families about the club, and while writing this post, two faculty members have emailed me with book ideas. I will really feel like this new try at an old idea is a success if our next meeting goes as well as the first and if the excitement can continue at least until the end of the year, or for a few more books. So far, so good!   

Please feel free to leave book suggestions in the comments. All advice welcome!

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