Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Not Your Momma's Book Club

Does anyone else have a book club whisperer? The friend who manages to keep the book club going for years despite the constant flux of people moving, getting new demanding jobs, and having babies? For me that person is my friend Ella, who loves nothing more than books, wine, and connecting people. I asked Ella to share her thoughts about a recent foray into starting a book club for kids because I though it was just too cute. Spoiler: there was no wine involved, but she did score a wonderful middle grade author to make a special appearance. If you haven't read her books, I highly recommend them.
Over the past few years, my six year old daughter observed how much fun mommy and her friends had at book club, mostly after she went to bed. So she decided she wanted to host her own book club which meant, of course, that I needed to plan it for her.
Luckily, my good friend Courtney Sheinmel is a popular kids book author, responsible for bringing the wonderful series Stella Batts into our lives. Courtney agreed to come, read a bit of Book 2 and take questions from the audience.
The kids loved the experience and asked really great questions. Stella Batts' main character is a third grader, and one of the most profound questions came from a 3rd grade boy, who asked if Stella was left back because she is “always in third grade in every story.” Courtney explained that for continuity, she writes Stella as a forever third grader and makes no mention to birthdays and holidays, so that Stella's adventures can be relevant throughout the whole school year. Other readers asked how Stella got her name, about the process of writing in a kids’ voice, and where Courtney gets her inspiration for Stella's adventures.
Courtney in turn asked the kids how they would like to see Stella's story evolve and even explained fan fiction to the kids. The grown-ups had as much fun as the children, and enjoyed asking Courtney for her own adult and young adult book recommendations.
As a parent, I saw first-hand how a kid focused book club could provide an enjoyable and easy way for children to hone their  literacy skills and I loved how the experience encouraged reading comprehension. In preparation for the day, we enjoyed reading the books together and discussing plot and character related questions. I’m glad we had this experience and look forward to participating in future events.
Photo: Author Courtney Sheinmel and Ella's little bookworm, Sasha.

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