Part of my role this year is to facilitate the book club at my school. Notice that I said ‘facilitate’ and not ‘run’ or ‘lead’. That’s what is so exhilarating about this experience. The pupils lead the way, they decide what to focus on, how their blog will look and what to discuss next. I just sit behind the camera and chip in my own thoughts from time to time.
We’re filming the group as part of the Carnegie/Greenaway Shadowing Scheme which invites young people from all over the country to read together and share their thoughts about a range of books, from picture books for the younger reader to complex novels. The group get to write their own blog, interact with the authors via the powers of the internet and finally meet them at an awards ceremony in the summer. The most positive part of the experience for me, has been listening to the sophisticated dialogue between the children. The children in this group are aged 9-11, but the natural way in which they consider plot detail and analyse the motivation of a character rivals that of many reviewers who are published currently.
What I really love about book clubs is the way in which they challenge our perceptions; we find ourselves reading books which we would never normally consider. For example, one of the books we have been reading is Carol Anne Duffy’s The Gift. Visually, it is stunning, with intricate paper cutting on every page (crafted by the amazing Rob Ryan). I was drawn to it instantly, from an aesthetic viewpoint, but interestingly, many of the group were not. They immediately considered it to be suitable for a much younger readership or, ‘for girls’ (oh the horror). However, they persevered and have come to the conclusion that they were in fact, wrong. All of the group have thoroughly enjoyed the intriguing tale which unfolds and are amazed by the skill involved in creating the images.
The benefits of a book club are vast. They create little communities, they encourage and stimulate healthy debate, they open up our experiences…and that is why I ❤ Book Clubs!