Sunday, August 4, 2013

Program: beTWEEN the lines

Our second summer meeting of beTWEEN the lines happened the first week of July. Our genre for the month was fantasy - one that I figured the kids would be happy to read (our fantasy books are probably the among the most circulated). It has been interesting to see the attendance in the summer months - only two of my regular school year attendees have continued to come in the summer months and the new kids who came in June were not the same new kids who came in July. So, while I now feel like I know my two regulars quite well, I don't feel like I'm establishing the relationships I'd hoped.

Regardless, we soldier on. Our meeting ran just the same way as it did in June, except the kids were much, much better at giving spoiler-free plot summaries this time around. The books read were:

Fairest of All (Whatever After, book one) by Sarah Mlynowski (my review and another Bluebonnet book for the 2013-14 school year)
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (my review)
The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, book three) by Rick Riordan (my review)
Goosebumps by R.L. Stine (a few different titles were discussed)
Into the Wild (Warriors, book one) by Erin Hunter
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, book five) by Rick Riordan
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

As in our first meeting of the summer, I had everyone introduce themselves before giving summaries. Then I asked each kid a few questions about their book. I also opened it up for questions from the other kids, but nobody offered any. Some interesting things happened this time around. The kids wanted to keep discussing Rick Riordan. That's great - I'm glad they are all big fans of his books, as I am, too. But it was alienating for the couple of kids in the room who hadn't read his books yet. I guess I should have anticipated this, as Riordan is a big name in middle grade fantasy these days, but I kept having to redirect the kids' attention to the other books we read for the month. The latest installment of "how will the kids make me feel old today?" surrounded Goosebumps and I actually brought this one on myself. I think every kid in attendance had read at least one Goosebumps book and they were casually discussing how many of them there are. I told them that those books had been around for a long time because I'd read them when I was a kid. I think you know what happened next.

Something happened that made me a bit sad and showed me that we are not doing enough to promote ourselves in library-land. When I told the kids what our next genre would be, I showed them a booklist I'd made and mentioned the display I'd set up. I also told them if they needed any ideas, they could come see me and I could suggest some books for them. They all looked agog - in fact, some of them even said, "you can do that?" YES! That is one of the things I love most about my job! I practically begged them to come hunt me down in the library anytime they needed a book recommendation, so hopefully some of them will take me up on that offer.

As for me, I read Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George. You can find my review here. As I write this post (which won't go live until later), I'm worrying about our final meeting of the summer. I promised my regular kids that we'd revisit the way book club was run in August and now I'm wondering what is the best way to move forward. I do miss some of the discussions we had when we all read the same book, and I wonder if the genre format is as effective as I wanted it to be. However, I still have my same qualms about the costs and efforts of returning to our previous model. Does anyone have any advice? Some suggestions I've gotten have included having the kids bring discussion questions to each meeting (taking the burden off me a bit, but I worry this will feel too much like school), alternating genre and reading the same book every other month, and returning to the one book format but buying fewer copies of each book. I worry that if I don't provide copies of the books, attendance will drop off and I don't want to make the kids buy their own copies. I'd love to hear some thoughts in the comments!

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