Sunday, May 5, 2013

Program + review: beTWEEN the lines

Our April book club was a bit of a mixed bag. The kids had really not wanted to pick this book - as a matter of fact, it was one of their choices for 3 months before they ended up choosing it, and they only chose this one because they REALLY did not want to read the other option.* Additionally, at the end of our discussion, I handed out May's book selection and then explained to them that book club would be undergoing a change - at least for the summer, but possibly for the foreseeable future. Last year, I put beTWEEN the lines on hold for the summer. After summer finished, I wondered why - don't kids have more time to read in summer? Wouldn't it be an opportunity for new kids to come check it out? So, heading into planning for summer 2013, I decided I would keep beTWEEN the lines going throughout the summer (added bonus: 2 less programs to plan). However, with the possibility of more kids, I realized that it would be difficult to keep the book club going the way it had: purchasing a set of copies of each title that the kids can borrow to read before the discussion. It's simply too costly. Additionally, I've realized that I spend a great deal of time preparing discussion questions for each meeting, but the discussion centered on the book does not end up proportionate to the amount of time I've spent working on it. So, starting this summer (and possibly continuing year-round), beTWEEN the lines will be moving to a genre format. Each month, we'll have a selected genre. Kids who want to attend can read any book in this genre and then come to the meeting and we'll all discuss what books we read. I will help kids pick out titles if they're having trouble; I also plan on having a display with the next month's genre and a suggested booklist. I was excited about this change of pace - less work for me and more freedom for the kids (no one would be reading a book they really didn't want to). My regular attendees did not share my enthusiasm, however; they said they liked our club the way we had it and insisted that we take a vote at the end of summer to see what everyone prefers. I am hoping this genre focus will get more kids interested. We have one more meeting in May before the experiment begins!

After all that, our book for April was...
Bud, Not Buddy
By Christopher Paul Curtis
Published 1999 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Ten-year-old Bud is on his own and in need of a change. The Home is too crowded and the foster families never seem to work out, so Bud is determined to find his father and live with him. Only one problem - his mother never told him who his father is. With a few of his mother's possessions that Bud believes are clues to his father's identity, he sets out to find his family.

Yes, I know: another case of bad librarian - I'd never read any Christopher Paul Curtis books until this one. Shun me if you will - I'm a busy lady. I was glad when the kids picked this one, though I mentioned that they really didn't want to. They had zero interest in this book - it was the first historical fiction title we had attempted and that may have had something to do with it. Another surprising moment for me: they were uncomfortable with the scene between Deza and Bud (if you've not read the book, Deza is a girl Bud meets one night, and they share a kiss). The kids in my book club are all at least 10, so I was surprised that they were still in the "kissing is gross" phase, but I guess that's a good thing.

My personal opinion of the book: I really wanted to enjoy it, but I didn't. I love historical fiction, and I love reading about how different historical events effect different kinds of people. Additionally, this is an award-winning book, so I feel like I'm supposed to like it. Is it well-written? Sure - there's an ease with which Curtis tells Bud's story that makes the reading go by relatively quickly. However, I just didn't find myself all that interested in Bud's story. Does that make this a bad book? No, it's just not the right book for me.

*The other option the kids absolutely did not want to read? Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

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