We did it! We had a kids' book club meeting tonight!
It was small, only three kids. But it was great fun. Before our meeting each of the kids (and their folks) read Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry. They seemed to all enjoy the book, thankfully.
We talked a bit about the main character and then I gave each child an outline of a paper doll so that they could create an outfit for her. They had identified Gooney Bird's clothing as one of the things that was especially distinctive about her. We also had a bunch of necklaces, ribbons, rings, bracelets, and such so that the kids could dress up like Gooney Bird. As the kids worked on their drawings and dressed up they were laughing about different parts of the book. It was fun to listen to their thoughts.
After eating dinner we discussed the other students in Gooney Bird's class. After listing as many as we could (their list was much longer than I expected!) each talked about who they were most like and why. Listening to each others' thoughts, of course, made them change their mind frequently. We also talked about Gooney Bird's favorite word (at least in our opinion): Suddenly... She uses this word in all of her stories at least once. We thought about things we might say following 'suddenly...' At the very end we looked at a list of all the stories Gooney Bird told and talked about the order they happened in her life and our favorites.
As a school we are talking about hosting kids' book club evenings two or three times this year for first and second graders. (I think family book club would be a better term.) I'm very excited about the possibilities, especially after tonight. One thing I did decide based on tonight is that we won't use this book. It was wonderful for these kids. But we want books that we can use in translations for many of our families and this one has so much fun with language that I'm not sure it will work as well in translation.
Our first book will be a wordless picture book in the hopes that everyone will find it accessible and will draw people in. No final decisions have been made for the one or two other titles for this year. I'd like to use beginning chapter books because first and second graders think chapter books are special. But I also want books that have a lot of meat to them. There is still a lot to iron out but the possibilities are exciting.