Saturday, February 11, 2012

The missing piece to book clubs

This week I had the day I always dread...the end of a book club.  As one of the groups gathered to meet, I could see their excitement about how the book had ended, their joy for several characters, but...I also saw one student who looked how I felt.  When I asked her what was wrong, she told the group how sad she was that the book was over, that she would miss their meetings, and that she was going to miss Loretta (one of the characters in the book).  In my heart I was thinking... I am going to miss the hustle and bustle each morning of watching them check in on their reading from the night before, their secret conversations during activities, their sense of community during discussions, and all the other wonderful moments inter-dependent reading brings.  I will never forgot their faces when I said, "You thought we were done?!?!"

The moment when a bookclub meets to discuss how a book ends, and there are no more pages to read, has always been an awkward moment for me.  It was that moment of "The book is what?"  How do I make sure the book is not closed and forgotten but seen as having an impact on our reading lives? I came across four lingering questions that Harvey Daniels and Stephanie Harvey recommend in, Comprehension and Collaboration: Inquiry Circles in Action (pg. 203), to support the change in us that occurs after reading a book, no matter how slight the change might be.  They suggest asking four lingering questions that encourage readers to dig deeper into their thinking and see where the book's impact, no matter how small, takes them next.  These four lingering questions are my missing piece.

Has this book changed you in some way?  
Where does this book take you next?
What do you want to find out as a result of having read this book?
Do you have any lingering questions?

When our group met for an additional time, we focused on these four questions.  We did not only discuss our feelings but acted on our feelings.  When students shared their answers, I gave the power to them...right then, right go get what they needed in their reading journey.  Acting on our needs as readers...the missing piece to book clubs that I had been looking for!

Several responses...
Has this book changed you in some way? (How to Steal a Dog)
     S: I had never thought about homelessness before.  I just have a house.
     T:  So what are you going to do with this thinking?
     S:  I think I need to thank my parents for our home.

Where does this book take you next?
    S:  I think I want to read more books by Barbara O'Connor.
    T:  Ok...go to the library and bring back all of the books by her.  We will start an author tub in     our library that focuses on just her books.  Go now! :)

What do you want to find out as a result of having read this book? (Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester)
    S:  I really don't know much about frogs and if they are like bullfrogs.  I think I want to study   them.
    T:  Go to the library and find some books on frogs.  Go now! :)  (By the way...he picked red-eyed bullfrogs as his independent inquiry topic during inquiry workshop.)

Do you have any lingering questions? (Greetings from Nowhere)
    S:  I wonder if Kirby and Loretta ever come back to the Sleepytime Motel and visit Aggie and Willow.  There needs to be a part two.  Is there a second book?
    T:  No there is not.  Who could we ask if there will be one?
    S:  We could ask the author.
    T:  Why don't you get on her website and see if she has a contact section?  Maybe we could write her or email her...go now :)

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