For love of book club

in Essential Ramblings

My sixth grade son and I have been involved in a mother-son book club for the past two years — a friend set it up with a group of kids from his fifth grade class last year and I am totally in love with the whole experience.  The kids are beyond cute, the books are good, and we sneakily talk about issues as a group that are touching on all of our lives — a little bit of bullying in The Bystander, mental illness in Small as an Elephant, the meaning of life! in Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, crime and punishment in Al Capone Does My Shirts, war and human relations in Cracker, sports and integrity in The Rivalry, and the list goes on.  We meet once a month in the evening and a different family “hosts” each time taking the pressure off any one person to perform every month.  We offer a snack related to the book (the kids are always ravenous), rate the book, and the host comes up with a few questions for the group (usually stollen off of the internet at the last moment before the kids show up).  The host is also asked to propose some books to the group for the next choice and the kids and moms then vote on the book — the local young adult librarian being the best friend of all of the moms as she often just gives a few suggestions and off we go!  The whole thing is done in an hour, we cover great ground, the kids and moms engage in the discussions, have a great time, and everyone feels good about the day!  I highly suggest the experience and have to tell you that I now read so many of their books that I have a hard time finding my own!  It’s a great way to talk to the boys, a wonderful way to bring up issues, and a perfect way to touch in with your child’s contemporaries and see what they are up to.  As the kids age, it’s a comfortable and safe place to air their worries and to find a voice with their friends and even with their friends’ parents that is comfortable.

So, if I haven’t sold you yet on setting up your own group, you’re crazy…go find those moms you like, find a group of like-minded kids and get started.  I promise it is more fun than work.  Also, I recently found an amazing resource on line (while searching my discussion questions for the book!) — created by two Westchester moms, no-less, called www.sweetonbooks.com, where you can find recommendations, reviews, and gasp — reading questions for all ages and interests, so the work is nearly done for you.

Happy reading!