Today I moderated the first official meeting of the Cardinal Mooney Book Club. I was pretty excited about this, especially as there was a lot of interest from our upperclassmen, many of whom I do not teach. As it was the first meeting, we needed to come up with some ground rules. Here’s what we decided:
- No book shaming!
- No person shaming! [Meaning: if someone doesn’t like a book you love or likes a book you find juvenile, or hasn’t read something you think everyone should have read or has read something you find ridiculous, keep it to yourself.]
- Start every meeting with a book talk.
That seemed like enough. Too many rules, and things get too regimented and procedural. This is a book club, after all, not the DMV.
Once that was determined (and we had our book talk), we had to figure out what we were going to actually do with this book club. They quickly decided that they didn’t want to all read the same thing. Their reasons:
- They won’t all be able to agree on a book they all want to read.
- They read at different paces and that will be frustrating to have to read faster/slower than their regular pace just to talk about a book.
- They already do this in their English classes, and they don’t want this to be another class.
So we decided our focus would be a little different.
They are going to read books on their own, or with a reading partner. Each week, then, we will talk about what we read and share our love for books. The goal is to share love for these books around our group, the school, and the world, in that order.
Sharing the book love around the group is easy. Sharing around the school is a little more difficult, but not too much so, as in a small school things the students love spread like wildfire. Sharing around the world is the most exciting part, as the students are talking about using Goodreads and eventually a group review blog to share about what they’ve read and loved. Their focus is going to be 2015 books, as it’s pretty easy to build a good buzz with high school students about books that aren’t even released yet.
So keep an eye out for what my book club students are reading, loving, and spreading the good news about! I look forward to what they’re going to be up to.
Okay. I have to comment on my own post here. A few things I’d like to point out. The students in the book club are a mix of all grade levels, but the most vocal students are upperclassmen. They have had 12 to 13 years of experience with reading in a school environment. And they said, immediately, that they don’t want to read a book together. They want to choose the book they get to read. They want to choose the pace they read their books at. They don’t want reading for pleasure to become “another class.” These are the kids who spend an hour of their time after school once a week to join an activity centered on reading books. A group that will only add time to their already busy schedules (hours of homework + athletics + chores at home + work + maybe sleep sometime?). This is a group they want to be a part of. These are the readers. These are the students who we have supposedly done well with.
And they want to choose their books, their pace, and what they do when they’re done with it. Are we listening? Are we getting it?