Add a Little Poetry to Your Mother-Daughter Book Club Meeting

March 20, 2008

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In honor of National Poetry Month, which is coming up in April, I offer this recommendation for a mother-daughter book club meeting. Instead of everyone reading a book to discuss, you can designate a meeting dedicated to poetry

Everyone can choose their own poets to read, and here are some ideas for you to start with:

  • Emily Dickinson—multiple collections of her poems, many of which are about flowers and nature
  • Robert Louis Stevenson—who wrote A Child’s Garden of Verse, which was popular with both children and their parents when it came out.
  • Shel Silverstein—best known for Where the Sidewalk Ends, but other collections are worth a read too.
  • Jack Prelutsky—author of more than 50 poetry collections, including the laugh-out-loud It’s Raining Pigs and Noodles, and A Pizza the Size of the Sun.
  • Alan Katz—a former writer for the Rosie O’Donnell Show, whose new collection is titled Oops!

You can also have everyone try their hand at writing a poem or two to read aloud at your next meeting. Any form will do: haiku, limericks, free verse, sonnets, tanka, odes…the list offers lots of flexibility.

One of the most interesting assignments I’ve ever had for book club was a poetry month. Everyone in the family got into it. My husband, two daughters and I made a trip to the library together and checked out different books of poetry. At dinner every night, we would each read aloud a poem from one of the books that had special appeal to us. Sometimes they were thoughtful, sometimes they were funny, but they all made us think about something differently.

And writing the poems wasn’t as difficult as we thought when we first got the assignment. In fact, it was probably more challenging for the adults than the kids, who get practice writing poetry in school. And it was a blast to read what we had written out loud at the meeting.

For more ideas, check out the Scholastic, Inc. website, which lists activities appropriate for different age groups.


On My Nightstand

March 18, 2008

There’s actually only a magazine on my nightstand right now, and I feel adrift. I finished reading The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale a couple of days ago (more to come on that in a review on Thursday) and I didn’t want to start another one since I’m leaving to visit my mom in Louisiana in just a few days. There’s something about starting a new book on an airplane that’s really exciting for me. So I have to be content now with the time I’m spending reading Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (see interview) to my daughter, Catherine.

Fortunately, Hattie is proving to be a wonderful book. I love Hattie’s voice and the way the homesteaders in Montana talk. It’s also very interesting to read the other historical bits about World War I and the fear of Germans living in the U.S. woven into the story too. So I have something to look forward to every day even if my nightstand does seem bare.


Find Book Club Discussion Ideas at Reading Group Guides.com

March 13, 2008

Tonight Madeleine and I are meeting with our mother-daughter book club to talk about Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. We both enjoyed the book, but I finished it a couple of weeks ago. To refresh my memory, I’ll visit ReadingGroupGuides.com.

ReadingGroupGuides.com is a great place to visit and look for discussion questions about a book you’ve read. If you’re leading the discussion in your book club, you can get ideas for things to talk about in your meeting. If you’re not hosting the meeting, you can still visit the site for a reminder about some of the more important actions and themes in your book.


Newbery Club—An Idea for Your Mother-Daughter Book Club

March 6, 2008

A librarian I know who leads a book club for kids at her school recently told me about a Newbery Club that several schools in the district participate in. Here’s what she had to say:

“There are over 10 schools where we collaborate and all lead Newbery Clubs. We love getting together as adults and discussing/reviewing books. We then bring them to the students who narrow down the selection and begin reading and also blogging between schools about the books. It is my favorite program I participate/manage.

“Their favorites this year were:

  • The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart—fabulous mystery, long read but the kids loved it. Enjoyed the surprises.
  • The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt—my favorite, laughed all the way through. Historical fiction. I was thrilled to see this win the Newbery Honor.
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick—impressive visual book, won the Caldecott recently.
  • Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass—very interesting realistic fiction book, enjoyed the adventures and discussions that came from this one.
  • Peak by Roland Smith—excellent adventure. The boys liked this one quite a bit, girls almost as much. This led to reading Into Thin Air which is a great biography.”

Thanks to Deborah Alvarez for the recommendations. This also sounds like a good way for mother-daughter book clubs to pick books. Particularly since there are so many titles to choose from. To check out what’s on the list, visit the American Library Association’s Newbery Medal Home Page.

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In Celebration of Reading—Read Across America Day 2008

March 3, 2008

Today is the National Education Foundation’s Read Across America Day. Every year the NEA schedules this day on or near Dr. Seuss’s birthday to promote the love of reading. I’m planning to participate by curling up with two good books today, Songs for a Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson and Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale. I’m also reading Burr, by Gore Vidal to my daughter who’s a junior in high school.

In need of a good book? Try out the recommendations here and at the following sites: