Friday, June 01, 2007


(image Kostian Iftica, c/o NASA)

A blue moon in common folklore refers to two full moons appearing in one calendar month...Last night, we sat out outside and watched the only calendar blue moon for the next 2.73 years rise through the trees in our backyard. The term has nothing to do with color, (as my children were disappointed to discover) and everything to do with frequency...In the same vein, I offer today a blue moon book review (two in a calendar month) for MotherTalk--this time of The Kids' Book Club Book by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp. My other review for them was posted on Monday about my thoughts on Lisa Tucker's intriguing novel, Once Upon a Day. I have been missing the reviewing since the magazine I wrote for was put on editorial hiatus and am happy to share my rampant book love here instead! (Especially today's book, which is a fascinating resource guide for book lovers everywhere.)

I know what the title says, The Kids' Book Club Book, but the links these authors made between reading, crafting, cooking, and conversation could readily inspire book club readers of any age. Gelman and Krupp spent over a year surveying and interviewing hundreds of book club leaders and participants about favorite titles, themes, and activities to ensure that the guide was packed with innovative ideas. Having read it, I can confirm that it absolutely is...

The statistics on reading rates, as the authors point out, is staggering: "44 percent of children ages five to eight read a book every day, while by ages fifteen to seventeen, the number drops to 16 percent. The reading habits of young adults between ages eighteen and twenty-four are also in sharp decline...down 28 percent since 1982." Perhaps because I am a reading and writing instructor at a community college filled with eighteen to twenty-four year olds, I witness first hand the struggles my students have with reading. Every semester it is the same thing, I ask, "How do you feel about reading?" in an introductory interview and get same answers, "I hate it." "I only read what I have to for class." "Books bore me, I'd rather watch TV." I ask this question now, after seven years of teaching there, because I know the one I used to ask when I started out, "What is your favorite book?" elicited blank stares and the sound of chirping crickets from the corners of the classrooms. Had my students been involved in reading groups like the ones The Kids' Book Club Book describes, they would likely never dream of responding "I hate it" to their reading teacher on the first day of class. In fact, this book would make an excellent reference for educators looking to inject some creativity and life into their literature curriculum.

This summer semester in my class, we are reading this book. The section of Gelman and Krupp's book about reading Persepolis and serving Iranian tea has started me thinking about replicating something similar at our end of the term book discussion. This event usually involves pizza or doughnuts--but, in honor of Moshiri's Iranian-immigrant character, Roya, I am inspired to consider having our discussion over tea that Gelman and Krupp describe as: "served without milk or sugar, but Iranians put a sugar cube on their tongues and draw the tea through the cube as they drink. On formal occasions, the tea is flavored with cinnamon or garnished with crushed rose petals." I can only imagine what my students' responses to this will be, but it would certainly enhance the tone of our conversation.

Like most bookish tweens, my daughter is eagerly awaiting the next Harry Potter installment next month. In the meantime, The Kids' Book Club Book has recipes for Chocolate Cauldrons and Iced Butterbeer (hint: it includes rootbeer, vanilla ice cream, and butterscotch syrup--oh my!) and tips for making potions and magic parchments, things I can only hope will tide her over until its release. She glanced through The Kids' Book Club Book with excitement as well, and has asked if I'd consider sponsoring a book club through her school next year. I am already known as "the literary mom" because of the poetry workshops I've taught for her classes--so, who knows? The Kids' Book Club Book makes it look easy, fascinating, and fun enough that I am already starting to see myself adding "book club mom" to my personal resume. I tell my students who "hate to read" that, "We just haven't found your book yet. We will." Not only does this guidebook offer a diverse helping of possible titles for readers from eight to eighteen--but it also shows the countless ways into them. Writer Lillian Smith said, "The impact of even one good book on a child's mind is surely an end in itself." Inspired anew by the passion for promoting literacy on the part of Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, I hope again to be an active part of sharing even just one...

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Blogger claireylove said...

Oh we missed our blue moon last night as it was so cloudy ~ it had been storming all afternoon (sigh). xox

3:00 PM  
Blogger daisies said...

i remember the first high school english class i taught ~ i made the mistake of asking what was their favourite book that they read over the summer ... chirping crickets indeed ~ it was a bit of a shock for this book worm but a good challenge for getting them interested in reading :)

thanks for the good links :)


3:28 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

Oh, VERY cool! Jeez, I just can't imagine not loving to read!! I really, really can't. How sad. The idea of a children's book club is a geat idea. Who knows? Maybe I will be a Book Club mom, too. Thanks for this. ;)

I noticed the full moons tihs month...Yes, indeed.


3:58 PM  
Blogger Vanessa said...

i think seeing my mother and grandmother always with their head in a book, engrossed, prompted me to want to delve in there. enjoy books. treasure them. visit the library. write sometimes too. i want to pass that on. Vx

5:58 PM  
Blogger Deirdre said...

I've always believed that people who hate reading just haven't found the right book yet. And once the magic begins a whole new world opens. Your students are very lucky to have a teacher who loves words as much as you do.

11:21 PM  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...

I like reading book reviews. I too have blog where I review books. But do read my review on my rooted blog.

6:14 AM  
Blogger Shaz said...

Such a beautiful sight. I dont think I have ever seen one.

5:52 AM  

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