One of the highlights of attending the elementary school where Maddie went from 2009-2013 and where Gracie and Bridget go now is the opportunity to attend elementary school book club. It's like grownup book club complete with a season of book selections, snacks, and discussion, just with kids as the primary managers. Parents participate too, and are encouraged to read the books—way more fun that way—but it really is mostly a kid endeavor. Last night was the last book club of the year, and the last book club of our beloved Mrs. Dixon's career as she is retiring at the end of the school year.
I cannot recommend elementary school book club enough, though, for so many reasons. I could go on and on about the grownup book clubs I've been lucky enough to join throughout my entire adult life, and this one is no different. Kids have so much to say and it's really fun to see them develop a love of thinking and talking about books outside the classroom; a lifelong passion for reading doesn't just develop there, but also at home and around library conference room tables. When Maddie attended a Montessori preschool in California, one of the rotating "jobs" was to prepare and serve the snack to classmates; I love that this little piece of Montessori method shows up at book club, where each month the "hosts" write questions for discussion as well as work together to prepare the refreshments. Sometimes the snack reflected the book (purple jellybeans were served last night along with some other goodies for Crenshaw; Maddie and I made a Vietnamese dessert when we read Inside Out & Back Again). It was amazing to see this year's members tackle some really difficult issues: immigration, homelessness, and survival—but also examine fantasy, historical fiction, and the glory of being a character who makes things happen in his or her own story without (or in spite of) the interference of clumsy grownups.
If your elementary school doesn't have a book club, it really should. Make a flyer, reserve a meeting room at your local library, pick some books, and the rest pretty much takes care of itself.
This is what we read this year (no meeting in December or May). Here is a list of books we've read through all the years we participated. Only one did I absolutely hate (sorry Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl was not for me) but even that discussion made up for it... mostly. The age range of our group was 3rd-6th grade, with an equal mix of boys and girls. Each book led to a great discussion, though I loved one particular question last night, especially: is there a practical answer for everything?
Maybe there is, maybe there isn't. You should talk to some kids about that, though—they have some good ideas on that subject.