Sunday, April 19, 2009

An Unnameable Grand Discussion

A while ago I posted this picture of my friend Joyce and I publicizing our third Grand Discussion of the year. Little did we know at the time that slapping a couple of Chipotle bags on our heads would turn into 30 bags of chips and a bunch of salsa, FREE, for our little get together! WOO-HOO, free is my favorite price! Thanks Chipotle!

I chose The Unnameables by Ellen Booraem as our discussion book. The book is one I picked from the Newbery List that Karen and I used for our Looking for Newbery series. I would never have picked this book from the shelf if it hadn't been on the list, and honestly, it took me some time to get into the book. This was a common feeling among students and parents in the months leading up to the discussion. I kept encouraging them to stick with it and about 30 did and showed up for our Grand Discussion. Lots of opinions were expressed as people gathered in the library, most of them were negative. As we began our discussion, I asked that we avoid discussing our opinions until the end after we had discussed the book. The group took a while to warm up, but finally the conversation picked up and it was GOOD! Topics of religion, power, politics, art, values, were all covered and covered equally by students and parents. The adults were very good at listening and responding to the kids with respect for their insight.

As the hour came to a close, I asked if anyone wanted to express their opinion of the book, but no one did. For the first time in Grand Discussion history, Joyce and I had to stop the conversation so we could get out on time. In the end, most everyone agreed that the book was difficult, (a good thing in my opinion), that it was written at many levels, that it was nothing like the kids literature that we grew up with, and that now that we had discussed it at length, it was a good book. All of these things gave Joyce and I a sense of accomplishment and success.


  1. WOW it is great to see so many familiar faces from my class. This is an amazing opportunity for the fifth graders! Thanks for all of your effort in continuing the tradition, and I would encourage anyone else considering starting A Grand Discussion to do it. What a wonderful opportunity to pull kids and parents together to read and discuss a great book. maria

  2. Thanks for the inspiration! What a great opportunity for families. I hope they appreciate you!