Monday, February 27, 2012

More Great Book Club Tips! Really good stuff here.

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February 27, 2012
Caroline's Classroom Connections
Book Clubs, Part Four: Pitfalls to Avoid 
No book club is perfect, but it's helpful to know what sorts of problems might arise. Here's your chance to learn from my mistakes and draw from things I learned during my years in the classroom. 
Young Readers 
My most challenging group happened to be my third-grade book club. In retrospect, they were a little young and I was a bit ambitious. Even with our "how-to" discussion and handout,
the ability for nine-year-olds to talk about books beyond the basics is too abstract.
These guys were really, really excited to have a special group of their own. They also were pretty squirrelly. As I'd taught mainly middle schoolers with a few years in upper elementary, I didn't walk in equipped with ways to capture and direct their energy and to walk them through discussions. 
If you want to work with young readers (8-10 years), your discussions will have to be very, very basic. 
It's a great idea to include some sort of thematic game, image, idea, etc. to begin with.
For example, when reading SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL, we started our discussion by describing ourselves with two adjectives. I shared with the kids pictures of Kansas and Maine so that they could see first-hand the drastic change Sarah experienced in moving across country. 
Parental Involvement 
If I had made our third-grade group a parent/child club, I'm sure things would have operated much more smoothly. Ideally,
bringing parents into a book group means adults and children read the book either together or separately and discussion naturally arises. 
This would lay groundwork for a later meeting. In moments when discussion lagged, adults would add their ideas, questions, or statements, modeling for their children how to both dig into a story and share discoveries with others. 
It is possible to run book clubs with one sole adult.
My older groups functioned beautifully discussion-wise. This was partly due to the fact we often carried over ideas we'd first touched upon in class and partly due to the cognitive development of the middle-school mind. 
Regardless if adults are in on the meetings, it is incredibly helpful to have them informed and supportive.
 As is often the case, attendance dropped as the school year progressed. More than one parent expressed her frustration with me, saying her child loved coming, but she was disappointed others weren't as faithful. A couple were annoyed on my behalf (seeing the work that went into preparing a meeting beforehand).
Keep in regular contact with your kids' parents. Give them a calendar of titles, then remind them of the next read.
Yes, it's discouraging that people aren't better at handling schedules (I sometimes fall into this, myself). Yes, you'll answer the same questions a dozen times. If it means more regular student involvement, do it. 
What other difficulties might surface while leading book clubs? Join the discussion over at our 
Next month: Book Clubs, Part Five: What Works

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Meet the Spellbinders

Caroline Starr Rose
Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. She's taught English and social studies to upper elementary and middle-school students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Back in New

Mexico, Caroline now writes middle-grade novels and picture books full time. 

To find teacher's guides, writing activities, and information about author visits, go to her website.


Carolee Dean
Carolee Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at schools, libraries, poetry events, and teacher/library conferences. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and a master's degree in communicative disorders, and she has spent over a decade working in the public schools as a

Comfort Paperback Cover
speech-language pathologist.

Her first novel, Comfort,was nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults, was named the Best YA Novel of 2002 by the Texas Institute of Letters, and was on the TAYSHAS (Texas Library Association) reading list. Take Me There is a YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers.
Take Me There Cover

She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random Act of Haiku."

 Follow me on Twitter 

Kim Bio PhotoKimberley Griffiths Little is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award, The Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, and the author of the highly acclaimed, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, published by Scholastic Press. Look for her books at the Scholastic Book Fairs, as well Circle of Secretsas two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013.
She lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a favorite speaker at schools around the country, presenting "The Creative Diary", a highly successful writing workshop and has been a speaker at many conferences.

Please visit her website to download free Teacher's Guides and Book Club Guides. 
Follow me on Twitter 

Upcoming Author Events

Sunday, March 11
Kimberley presents at the 
Tucson Book Festival
11:30 -12:30 Panel with Author Will Hobbs: "Opening Minds Across Borders: Characters in Conflict" 
2:30 - 3:30 "Breaking into Children's Novels through Magazine Writing"
Each session followed by autographing

Saturday, March 17
UNM Continuing Ed  
Young Writers Conference

Kimberley is presenting "The Creative Diary" - a hands-on Writing Workshop for kids and teens   

Wednesday, March 23
Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM
Caroline talks to teachers about poetry in the classroom

Saturday, March 31
Caroline presents at the
Jambalaya Writing Conference
Houma, Louisiana

Saturday, 14 April
Alamosa Bookstore, Albuquerque, NM
Carolee and Caroline discuss verse novels for poetry month

Sunday, April 29th 
9-5 Preconference Session  
Author's Panel at the
International Reading Association Conference
Chicago, Illinois
"Rekindling the Reading and Writing Fire"
Join us for this all day session
featuring 11 authors including
all 3 Spellbinders
Carolee Dean
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Caroline Starr Rose 
Tuesday, May 1
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
International Reading Association Conference
Chicago, Illinois
"The Secret Language of Stories"
Carolee Dean

November, 2012
YALSA Literature Symposium 
"Author Research Panel"
Carolee Dean
Kimberley Griffiths Little
and two other authors
St. Louis, Missouri

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Spellbinders | 3 YAF Authors | Albuquerque | NM | 87181

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