In a continuing effort to promote reading and literacy throughout our school community, a few years ago we introduced a grade five Mother / Daughter book club. Meeting once per term, the book club serves to bring together readers with books that they might find challenging, or that require discussion and context. Meetings are generally well-attended; we provide breakfast and a convenient early morning meeting time that allows as many moms as possible to attend. Of course, despite the name, any adult is welcome to join the Mother / Daughter Book Club; we’ve also had dads, grandmas and older sisters take part in the discussion.
Although I do solicit suggestions from our students as to which books will be chosen, I do make the final choice. I think this is important because I want the book to be as widely read as possible, both by moms and daughters, and many of our grade five suggestions are not as adult-friendly as our older participants might like! Thankfully, many books published for younger readers today ARE accessible for adult readers, and do often have great crossover appeal. Some notable titles from previous meetings include Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Two of our most successful titles have been Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and Charlie Wilcox by Sharon McKay; each is discussed below:
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
It seems redundant to give a summary of this book, as I imagine everyone reading this blog post has read this wonderful novel. The discussion at this meeting was rich and fulfilling, and we thoroughly discussed all aspects of this remarkable book. You can read more about our meeting at our blog SCS Reads.
Charlie Wilcox by Sharon McKay
We usually read this title at our fall meeting, which I usually try to schedule for mid-November as the school gathers to commemorate and honour those who have served our country on Remembrance Day. It is particularly interesting for our students to hear the adult perspective about this novel, and war in literature. At our most recent book club meeting, we were lucky enough to be joined by two grandmothers who offered an invaluable perspective, and whose participation really enhanced our discussion. Charlie Wilcox follows a young Newfoundlander who, quite by accident, ends up on the battlefields of Belgium during the Great War. It raises questions of war, ethics, child soldiers, logistics during war scenarios, and remembrance. The author, Sharon McKay, is a war artist, and regularly takes tours of duty with the Canadian Army, and we have been lucky enough to have her visit our school. You can read more about our meeting at our blog SCS Reads.
Our grade twelve students have also recently been involved in a similar, but less formal, mother / daughter reading experience. Our seniors read Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels (the 1997 Orange Prize winner) as their set text during the first term of their final year. One of our English teachers, herself a published author, arranges for the author to come in to the school for an afternoon, and invites the seniors and their moms to hear her presentation. The novel tells the story of a Jewish boy, Jakob Beer, who is rescued from the ruins of his native Polish town after hiding from the Nazis, who murdered his entire family. His rescuer is Athos, a Greek geologist who happened to have been in the area. Athos raises Jakob, first in Greece, and later in Canada. In the second part of the novel, a reader of (a now adult) Jakob’s poetry tries to make sense of his parent’s experience of the Holocaust. Originally a poet, Michaels is a wonderful Canadian author who is a fascinating and entertaining speaker, and whose presentation truly enhances the reader’s understanding and enjoyment of the novel.
If you have inter-generational book clubs in your school, please share! Which books have worked well for you? Which have been less than successful? And if you have any tips for successful meetings, leave a comment!