Since being at my new building, the school librarian and I decided to set up similar student-parent conversations of our own called GREat Discussions (see how I know a good idea when I hear it? Thanks Bill and Joyce!).
Anyway, back to my point. Tonight was our first GREat Discussion of the year, and we chose Touch Blue as the book to discuss. Cathy (our librarian) and I brought the treats, and then waited for the people and conversation to come. We were not disappointed by either one!
What transpired tonight was amazing!! We had 33 students and parents totally caught up in all the conversations. Because of the large numbers, Cathy and I decided to pose some questions to everyone, have them talk at their tables, and then come back to the big group and share out the important thoughts and conversations. The students were eager participants from the very beginning. They really drove the conversations, but the parents became more active in the discussions by the end of the night.
Lots of big ideas in the book were covered. A few of the highlights were:
- the concept of belonging that permeated the story
- all the foreshadowing on the cover
- the relationship between Aaron and Tess and the rest of the family
- why Aaron was so angry
- Eben's behavior and motivation
- all of the superstitions Tess had, and how well Cynthia Lord tied them into the story
- the significance of the Tess catching the blue lobster and the importance of her throwing it back into the ocean
- what it would be like to be a foster child
- lots of symbolism -- the Monopoly pieces on the front cover were discussed and it went from there
- the fun part of the chatter between lobstermen out on their boats
- Tess gunning the boat at the end
The beauty of all this are the "take-aways"of the experience:
- Parents and students sharing a reading experience together. I would bet that there was some conversation within families before we even met for the GREat Discussion.
- Sharing a book with others makes you appreciate it in a much more deep and meaningful way.
- Parents were amazed at the depth of the students' conversations. It was great for them to see what kind of conversations children can have in the presence of a wonderful book.
- Students got to see their parents as readers and participants in a meaningful conversation.
- Parents coming to us afterward to tell us how grateful they were that they took part in this book talk.
- Students and parents alike begging to know what the next book for GREat Discussion will be.