Sunday, March 5, 2017

SOL 5/31: From February Fishbowls to March Book Madness!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, Deb, Lisa, Melanie, and Lanny
for hosting this meeting place each day in March
and for nurturing our writing lives.

February was an unusual month for Books, Brownies, and Beyond, our after school book club.  When we met on Feb. 14th, it had been three weeks since our last meeting.  Our last meeting in January was canceled due to the arrival of my grandson Jack.  The first meeting in February was a snow day, so we happily gathered on Valentine's Day for free books to celebrate the conclusion of our Mock Newbery round of reading.  I reminded everyone that we were focusing on five books from our literature circle collection for African American History month.  Students scurried to check out one of the five titles before Amy, our librarian assistant, left for the day.  Because  we would miss next week too!  Next Tuesday we would be out of school for mid-winter break.

When we met last week, we chose to discuss the books using the fishbowl approach.  Students who had read the title joined in a semicircle at the front of the room while the rest of the group listened in on the conversation.  This is a great tool to encourage interest by other members who may not have read the book (and we try hard to avoid spoiling the book for those who haven't read it).  I wish I had captured some pictures, but I was so enthralled with the conversations that I totally forgot to snap any pics.

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson - We discussed the differing viewpoints of Jacqueline's childhood as she grew up in New York and South Carolina during the 60's and 70's.  And of course we ended up talking about other novels-in-verse that we liked.
  • The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall - I couldn't resist sharing the opportunity I had to visit the actual exhibit by James Hampton in the Smithsonian American Art Museum when we read this book as part of our Mock Newbery two years ago.  It's a wonderful story of grief, art, friendship, and redemption.
  • Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes - We discussed the genre of magical realism.  And I realized that none of these middle school students could remember Hurricane Katrina.  Here's a link to more books about Hurricane Katrina
  • Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine - Isabella gave us wonderful insight into the symbolism on the original hardback cover of this book.  And we loved so many things about this friendship between two girls set in 1958 during the integration of schools in Little Rock
  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon Draper - This was undoubtedly the favorite book of our group.  This book deals with racism, voting issues, and the KKK in depression-era North Carolina.  When I asked my readers if there were any problems with voting issues today and was met with blank stares, I knew that we would begin our next meeting by examining the NEWSELA  Issue Overview:  Voting Rights.
Members of our book club collectively read twenty-five books.  One member read all five books and two other members each read four books.  It was a good month of reading, and a great follow up to our Mock Newbery books which had been our focus for November, December, and January.  Now it's time for us to turn our attention to the sixteen "new classics" titles featured as part of March Book Madness.   This week we'll complete first round voting of the Middle Grade Sweet Sixteen.   Want to know more about March Book Madness?  Then hustle over to the MBM home page to check out the brackets for picture book, middle grade, and young adult titles.  Remember, first round voting closes at 7pm EST on Tuesday, March 7th.

This blog post is cross-posted to Sweet Reads, a place for me, the members of our after school book club, and interested readers to share the books we are reading, booklists, and other book related activities.


  1. Your book club and the choices sound amazing. I have added all the titles to my TBR list. I really like the idea of the fishbowl - what a great way for a student to get the gist of a book.

  2. Such great books! What a lucky book club. :-)

  3. Fishbowl- what a good idea! You have such a great book club. A reading and writing club is what I'd like to do for fun when I retire.

    1. Diane, you should definitely do it. I've loved meeting with my group. This is our 3rd year and it's the best thing I did after retirement.

  4. I have been wanting to start a book club!! I currently don't know if I could fit one more thing into my life right now, but if I could it would be a book club!

  5. It's great fun to hear what you all are doing, and it seems after the mock-Newbery, you've started off again, this time March Madness. Have a great time!