The Styling Librarian

In my opinion, books are the best accessory.

Styling Librarian: Children’s Book Club Part 2

Part 2: Book Clubs: I’ve mentioned before that I’ve run book clubs at my school. In the past, I’ve run various types of clubs from literature circles to family book clubs to Newbery Clubs. I love the variety and challenge each type provides. I have been the “go-to” person when parents initially begin their book clubs with children, what fun it is to recommend books based on the readers I know. Running book clubs at first was a steep learning curve to figure out what style worked for me with each type that I was facilitating. Now, I think it is more second nature to me. So I have to slow down and figure out what I really do to run the different book clubs…

I posted on running after-school book clubs, now on to Mother Daughter Book Clubs!

I heard from a parent recently that she wanted to begin a mother-daughter book club for her daughter who is moving into 4th grade. She asked about a few books, one (The Mother-Daughter Book Club) by one of my favorite authors, Heather Vogel Frederick. Heather is actually the one that inspired me to read aloud Betsy and Tacy series with my son. He has many choices on chapter books we’re in the middle of (or close to the end- The Borrowers is taking a while!) and he consistently selects the Betsy and Tacy book that we’re in the middle of- 3rd book so far. He laughs, asks questions, and is quite involved with each of the stories. I just read aloud a chapter about all three girls deciding to be “in love” with a boy, he had no comments afterwards.  In any case, Heather Vogel Frederick’s books inspire me to read other books in addition to treasuring the ones she writes!

Here was my response for more book ideas and a wonderful resource for book club management and ideas:
Keep in mind that this will be a mother-daughter book club with a group of incoming 4th grade girls:

I know Cindy Hudson who wrote the book Book by Book The Complete Guide to Creating Mother Daughter Book Clubs and she writes this fantastic website:  Here is a list that is on the website that might help guide you to some terrific books:

I found that this guide was perfect for parents beginning book clubs (not just mothers by the way) and step by step laid out key elements to creating a fantastic book club (loads of free ideas are shared on the blog as well!  As a professional, I read numerous other books for ideas on leading book clubs, gained information from my colleagues and during various classes for my Masters, and found another book that is quite useful: Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids and the Bond of Reading by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone.

Also, I highly recommend reading The Book Whisperer- Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller and The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. The are both fantastic and inspirational.

Some books that might be wonderful to talk about and have for a book club: (There are way too many that I love, happy to give you more as you need ideas!) There might not be accompanying questions, but each of these books have deeper discussions, special topics, and are book treasures: **Reminder of my absolutely favorite source for book club discussion questions:  They have over 150 of the  BEST book discussion questions and often if I’m overloaded, I use their universal questions which are relevant to almost any book discussion. **Also with this book list, I’d suggest taking advantage of the amazing book trailers available to promote the book initially with your book club. There are some talented book trailer creators out there that are fantastic at visually promoting the books. (I’ll include a few as links after the summary of the book:)

The Humming Room by Ellen Potter
Summary from Goodreads: Hiding is Roo Fanshaw’s special skill. Living in a frighteningly unstable family, she often needs to disappear at a moment’s notice. When her parents are murdered, it’s her special hiding place under the trailer that saves her life.  As it turns out, Roo, much to her surprise, has a wealthy if eccentric uncle, who has agreed to take her into his home on Cough Rock Island. Once a tuberculosis sanitarium for children of the rich, the strange house is teeming with ghost stories and secrets. Roo doesn’t believe in ghosts or fairy stories, but what are those eerie noises she keeps hearing? And who is that strange wild boy who lives on the river? People are lying to her, and Roo becomes determined to find the truth. Despite the best efforts of her uncle’s assistants, Roo discovers the house’s hidden room–a garden with a tragic secret.  Inspired by The Secret Garden, this tale full of unusual characters and mysterious secrets is a story that only Ellen Potter could write.

Wonder  by R.J. Palacio — one of my absolute favorite books of the year.

Summary from Goodreads: August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances? R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – The other book that tops my favorites list.

Summary from Goodreads: Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all. Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line. Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better. Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Bigger than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder – want a deep, terrific conversation? Read this book (and any other book by Laurel Snyder)!

Summary from Goodreads: A magical breadbox that delivers whatever you wish for—as long as it fits inside? It’s too good to be true! Twelve-year-old Rebecca is struggling with her parents’ separation, as well as a sudden move to her Gran’s house in another state. For a while, the magic bread box, discovered in the attic, makes life away from home a little easier. Then suddenly it starts to make things much, much more difficult, and Rebecca is forced to decide not just where, but who she really wants to be. Laurel Snyder’s most thought-provoking book yet.

Diamond Willow and Hidden by Helen Frost- both are books in verse with fascinating stories that would lead to quite the discussion.

Summary from Goodreads: Diamond Willow: Twelve-year-old Willow would rather blend in than stick out. But she still wants to be seen for who she is. She wants her parents to notice that she is growing up. She wants her best friend to like her better than she likes a certain boy. She wants, more than anything, to mush the dogs out to her grandparents’ house, by herself, with Roxy in the lead. But sometimes when it’s just you, one mistake can have frightening consequences . . . And when Willow stumbles, it takes a surprising group of friends to help her make things right again. Using diamond-shaped poems inspired by forms found in polished diamond willow sticks, Helen Frost tells the moving story of Willow and her family. Hidden messages within each diamond carry the reader further, into feelings Willow doesn’t reveal even to herself.

Hidden: When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra’s father steals a minivan. He doesn’t know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too.
Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth—that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain.

Half Magic by Edgar Eager – really wonderful family book with fantastic fantasy mixed in!

Summary from Goodreads: Since Half Magic first hit bookshelves in 1954, Edward Eager’s tales of magic have become beloved classics. Now four cherished stories by Edward Eager about vacationing cousins who stumble into magical doings and whimsical adventures are available in updated hardcover and paperback formats. The original lively illustrations by N. M. Bodecker have been retained, but eye-catching new cover art by Kate Greenaway Medalist Quentin Blake gives these classics a fresh, contemporary look for a whole new generation.

May B. A Novel by Caroline Starr Rose

Summary from Goodreads: I’ve known it since last night:
It’s been too long to expect them to return.
Something’s happened.

May is helping out on a neighbor’s Kansas prairie homestead—just until Christmas, says Pa. She wants to contribute, but it’s hard to be separated from her family by 15 long, unfamiliar miles. Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May’s memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her. But she’s determined to find her way home again. Caroline Starr Rose’s fast-paced novel, written in beautiful and riveting verse, gives readers a strong new heroine to love.

Dumpling Days by Grace Lin

Summary from Goodreads: There was no day that dumplings couldn’t make better.
Pacy is back! The beloved heroine of The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat has returned in a brand new story. This summer, Pacy’s family is going to Taiwan for an entire month to visit family and prepare for their grandmother’s 60th birthday celebration. Pacy’s parents have signed her up for a Chinese painting class, and at first she’s excited. This is a new way to explore her art talent! But everything about the trip is harder than she thought it would be–she looks like everyone else but can’t speak the language, she has trouble following the art teacher’s instructions, and it’s difficult to make friends in her class. At least the dumplings are delicious… As the month passes by, Pacy eats chicken feet (by accident!), gets blessed by a fortune teller, searches for her true identity, and grows closer to those who matter most.

The Grand Plan to Fix Everything by Uma Krishnaswami

Summary from Goodreads: Eleven-year-old Dini loves everything about movies–especially Bollywood movies. So she would have been really excited about her family’s move to India…if they were moving anywhere near Bombay, the center of the Bollywood universe and home to Dini’s all-time most favorite favorite star, Dolly Singh. But no. Dini’s now stuck in a teeny, tiny village that she can’t even find on a map. But small villages can have surprises, and soon Dini is hard at work on a new life’s script in which she gets to meet the amazing Dolly. However, real life is often more unpredictable than the movies, and when Dini starts plotting her story things get a little out of control….  Uma Krishnaswami’s joyful, lively, Bollywood-inspired tale is full of preening peacocks, mischievous monkeys, delicious confections, and the wondrous, magical powers of coincidence.

The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

Summary from Goodreads: The book club is about to get a makeover….
Even if Megan would rather be at the mall, Cassidy is late for hockey practice, Emma’s already read every book in existence, and Jess is missing her mother too much to care, the new book club is scheduled to meet every month.
But what begins as a mom-imposed ritual of reading Little Women soon helps four unlikely friends navigate the drama of middle school. From stolen journals, to secret crushes, to a fashion-fiasco first dance, the girls are up to their Wellie boots in drama. They can’t help but wonder: What would Jo March do?
Acclaimed author Heather Vogel Frederick will delight daughters of all ages in a novel about the fabulousness of fiction, family, and friendship.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap  by Liz Kessler

Summary from Goodreads: For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap has lived on a boat. And, oddly enough, for just as long, her mother has seemed anxious to keep her away from the water. But when Mom finally agrees to let her take swimming lessons, Emily makes a startling discovery – about her own identity, the mysterious father she’s never met, and the thrilling possibilities and perils shimmering deep below the water’s surface. With a sure sense of suspense and richly imaginative details, first-time author Liz Kessler lures us into a glorious undersea world where mermaids study shipwrecks at school and Neptune rules with an iron trident – an enchanting fantasy about family secrets, loyal friendship, and the convention-defying power of love.

I chatted recently on Twitter with Cindy Hudson, wonderful creator of and found that her daughter has created book club kits available upon request, what a beautiful gift for book clubs:

There is a great collection of resources here for starting book clubs:

Thank you to everyone for following me by email (please see link above). Want more book ideas and reviews? – Yes, I’m quite brief, but a prolific reader!  Please visit me at Goodreads:

Also, I’d love to see you on Facebook– I post some resources I think are useful and I love friends on Twitter which I consider one powerful professional tool! I’m so honored to be followed by family, friends, colleagues, students, community members, teacher librarians, educators, and others all over the globe. Thank you!!

PS: What would YOU recommend for an incoming 4th grade reader/Mother Daughter Book Club? I had fun creating my list with my specific reader in mind but would love your opinions as well!

4 comments on “Styling Librarian: Children’s Book Club Part 2

  1. Cindy Hudson
    June 21, 2012

    Love your list Debbie, and all the resources you offer on your website. Thanks for mentions Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs, and my website, As you know, anytime and any way families read together it’s a good thing.

  2. Pingback: Styling Librarian: Technology Resources Shared for June 2012 « The Styling Librarian

  3. Pingback: Styling Librarian: Author Interview: Cindy Hudson « The Styling Librarian

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