There's a Book for That, Day 7:
The Hundred Dresses, part one
At our local homeschool co-op, I facilitate a book club for a group of 10-11 year old girls. The book we chose to read and discuss was The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes. I didn’t know what to expect since I had never read it before but the reviews looked promising and it won the vote of the girls over other choices. It’s probably not wise to choose a book for a book club without reading it first, especially when it is your first attempt. But I am glad I did. Reading the book chapter by chapter with the girls allowed me to stay present in the book and look only at the “evidence” the author was giving us instead of unintentionally leading the discussion based on evidence that is presented later in the book (more about that in a moment). And I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by both the book and our discussion. (As of this writing, we have not yet finished the book discussion.)
So, back to the evidence….I first learned about the idea of reading a book for evidence when I listened to a podcast from the Read Aloud Revival, hosted by Sarah Mackenzie. If you haven’t checked out that podcast, you must!!! It is amazingly inspirational. Well, on Episode 10 of the podcast, Heidi Scovel, who blogs at Mt. Hope Academy was discussing her experiences with starting a parent-child book club. She called it Book Detectives. Right then and there, I knew I wanted to try this out.
Though my book club doesn’t currently include parents, I am considering offering that as an option when we begin a new book.
Anyway, Heidi offered up this great analogy that every book, despite its specific genre, belongs to the genre of mystery. In every book, the author gets us to ask questions and to read for those answers. The author also tries to convey a message through the details of plot, setting, and character. It is our job as the reader to be a detective and to look closely at these details to figure out what the author wants us to know. To me, this analogy is brilliant and really resonates with readers of all ages.
During the discussions of our book club, the girls found themselves making assumptions about various things like setting and characters. But when challenged to find evidence in the book, they were able to clarify or revise their assumptions with accurate, supporting detail. And this changed how they read later on in the book. Discussions we had on the first day, reappeared as new evidence came to light.
Other than Heidi’s blog and the Read Aloud Revival podcast, I found a lot of helpful ideas from Deconstructing Penguins and Teaching the Classics. Both of these were extremely helpful as I jumped in. Tomorrow I will share more specifics of our discussions and what I have learned through my first attempt at facilitating.