A new unit means new book clubs! I love book clubs for many reasons. My class this year also loves to read (all of them, which is amazing), so book clubs are even more fun than usual. I love hearing my students talk about books. I love listening to my students read and talk about great books. I love seeing my students read books that they wouldn’t normally read on their own. I love reading my students’ questions and reflections on the books. I love seeing these books through my students’ eyes and experiences and interests.
This unit, we are talking about human rights through the immigration, refugees, race, and poverty (all topics that relevant to current events). We are reading books that feature a protagonist dealing with one of those issues: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (immigration after the Vietnam War), Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse (poverty during the Dust Bowl), Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (race during the Civil Rights era), and The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney (refugees from the Darfur crisis). They started reading the books together with their groups yesterday, and then they also read part of the book for homework.
This is a different set-up than I usually use for book clubs. I usually follow the “whole novels for the whole class” approach written about by Ariel Sacks. In this method, students read the whole book, then we talk about it in whole class discussions. We did this with our last book, since the whole class wanted to read it, but for this one, I wanted there to be a lot of different books being read. This time, as they read, they get to have mini-discussions every day about what they are reading as they are reading it. I still am having my students respond to the text using post-it notes (another Ariel Sacks strategy), but instead of looking back at what you read three nights ago, you get to look at what you read last night and talk about it now. It’s fun to see them read together and talk together about these books that deal with difficult topics in manageable ways. Plus, there’s a little history involved with all of these books, so bonus! I am really looking forward to the discussions into which I will be able to eavesdrop over the next several weeks as these books take us to the end of the year.