Our first book club meeting took place this week. It far exceeded my expectations. A group of six 13 year olds and one 11 year old can get a bit silly if left to their own devices. However, these kids came ready to talk. Armed with a Starbucks drink and settled into a great space (a university bookstore where other groups of students were meeting) they held their first book talk.
Each child came to the meeting with something to discuss, in the style of literature circles. There was a discussion director, a connector (brings connections to his or her life), question askers, book reviewers, word smiths (bring a passage of language that touched you), etc. This helped direct a dialogue, rather than have a free-for-all discussion. The book also facilitated great conversation.
Topics we discussed:
- Was Uri good or bad?
- Metaphorical references for the necklace, the horse, the pied piper, the milkweed seed.
- Why did Micha’s story finally matter when two women stopped to listen to him?
- We had a friend share poetry he brought back from a recent visit to Washington D.C’s Holocaust Museum.
- We discussed historically accurate parts of the novel like Dr. Korzac and the Jewish resistance which were covered in the documentary about Irena Sendler.
- We talked about whether we would recommend this book and to what age group.
It really was fascinating to see these kids, who I have known for several years, tackle this with maturity. At the end of our meeting, we narrowed down our next book choice from the 4 books I selected to one; Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. While not everyone is 100% thrilled with this choice, it was not listed as #4 on anyone’s ranking. We agreed that many of us would not picked up Milkweed as a "fun reading adventure" and book clubs are meant to help the reader step outside of their comfort zone and read something they may not choose on their own.