When I first floated the idea of a Tween Us Book Club for both tweens and parents, there was an overwhelmingly positive response. It is now happening
First things first - book selection
Drum roll, please! The first Tween Us Book Club book is Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.
I've asked Stacey Loscalzo to partner with me on the Book Club because she's uniquely qualified for the job: she's a blogger, contributor to Great New Books, a location manager for The Writers Circle, and best of all, a parent of tweens. She's wise and wonderful and thought Fish in a Tree would be a great inaugural selection.
Here's what Stacey says about Fish in a Tree:
"I have always loved the quote, 'Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.'
Apparently, Lynda Mullaly Hunt also likes these lines because she wrote a wonderful book based on its premise. Fish in a Tree tells Ally's story as a student with undiagnosed dyslexia. Whether you are a student who loves school or one like Ally who has yet to find her place, you will find lots to relate to in this tale of friendship, bravery and wisdom."
She's not the only one who liked Fish in a Tree. Perhaps the best endorsement of all is that it is her daughter's recent favorite book.
In a starred review, School Library Journal said, "“Mullaly Hunt again paints a nuanced portrayal of a sensitive, smart girl struggling with circumstances beyond her control. . . . Ally’s raw pain and depression are vividly rendered, while the diverse supporting cast feels fully developed. . . . Mr. Daniels is an inspirational educator whose warmth radiates off the page. Best of all, Mullaly Hunt eschews the unrealistic feel-good ending for one with hard work and small changes. Ally’s journey is heartwarming but refreshingly devoid of schmaltz.”
Kirkus said, "Fans of RJ Palacio's Wonder will appreciate this feel-good story of friendship and unconventional smarts." And I know Wonder is a favorite among many Tween Us readers, so Fish in a Tree should also be right up our alley!
The idea behind the Tween Us Book Club is that parents and kids will both read Fish in a Tree and then talk about it together. Stacey and I, along with the help of our tweens, will compile some questions and a few discussion topics should you want any guidance. I'll post the informal Reading Guide here in a few weeks.
Then we will have a virtual book club meeting, meaning that we will devote a day on the Tween Us Facebook page and the blog to discussing the book. Let's go with August 17th, which gives everyone a full month to read.
This doesn't need to be complicated. If you want to keep it simple and just discuss the book over family dinner or in the car, that's great.
If you want to host a gathering of your tweens friends and parents, by all means, please feel free to do so. (If you want info and advice on starting a parent-tween book club, check out this post on Her Next Chapter.) If you do, I hope you'll share all about your gathering. But keeping this between you and your tween is an equally great experience.
There are so many benefits of reading with your older kids and talking with them about a book you've both read.
* As a parent, when you sit down to read, you are modeling positive behavior that you want to see in them. They will notice. You can tell them reading over the summer matters, and sitting down to read a book shows them that.
* Not only do you send a message that reading is important, you're showing them that you care about what they're reading as well as what they think about it. Kids want to feel heard. Most people do. Devoting time to listen to their ideas about a book can make them feel heard.
* As an added bonus, I'm willing to bet that you learn something about your child, be it your child's views on the world or small details about school or something else in their world. It's much easier to talk about their experiences in the context of a book during a laid back summer chat than it is to answer rapid fire questions at the end of a long school day.
* Talking about books develops important reading and communication skills, including critical thinking and analysis.
* If you want to read parts of the book aloud to each other, that's awesome and you can read more about the benefits of that here.
* Reading over the summer is a great way to fight the summer slide and keep kids' brains sharp for the return to school, which is coming up faster than I'd like to admit. Yikes!
So, consider the Tween Us Book Club underway. Have a great time reading Fish in a Tree, following along on the Facebook page and check back here for the reading guide, discussion, more book suggestions and future virtual book club gathering.
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