I started a book club in Helen's and Connor's classes - and although it was a lot of drama getting it done, we had our first meeting in second grade over lunch last week. Yesterday, I met with the 5th graders, and next week, I'll be back in second grade (so many students volunteered to participate that I needed to break the second grade into two groups).
In both groups I, as well as the students, had a ton of fun. I was so amazed at how much detail everyone remembered, the diversity of thought in the room, and the general awesomeness that surrounded me. The 5th graders enjoyed our lunch so much, that they expressed deep disappointment that it would be a month before I came back. So I agreed to try and find another adult to come in once a month so they could meet twice each month. That adult has been located.
The second graders keep forgetting when it is their date, so they keep being disappointed that I'm not there - but I don't have physical space to meet more often than we are meeting, so getting more hands won't help me get them more lunches. Once a month will have to do. In my dream world, by the end of the year a group of about 8 will develop and we'll be able to move our book club forward into next year.
In second grade, our story was The Happy Lion. The basic gist of the story is that everyone is nice to the lion when he's in his cage, but when his keeper mistakenly leaves the cage open, the lion is at first worried that people will come into his cage, and then decides to take a walk around Paris. Not surprisingly, people freak out, the lion wonders if the people are always like this when they're not at the zoo, and eventually a little boy walks him back to his cage.
The idea of a lion walking down the street was hilarious. And while some of the boys claimed they would just pop the lion in the nose if they saw him, a few admitted it would be rather terrifying. It was really interesting to hear their ideas about why place matters, and why we might react differently to the same thing if circumstances changed.
Next up was "Laurie", excerpted from a collection of stories focusing on parenting "Life Among the Savages", written by Shirley Jackson. It was impressive how the students pulled examples from the text to support their ideas, how students disagreed with each other and kept the conversation moving forward. I was in heaven.
At the very least, kids are getting a chance to eat lunch in an environment that's not quite the mess that the school cafeteria is. And hopefully, at least a few students are getting excited about reading for pleasure, and looking for meaning - maybe becoming better writers along the way.