Wednesday, November 17, 2010

5th Grade Newbery Club Off to an Exciting Start

When I was considering moving into the library 4 years ago, I made a list of things I would like to try or accomplish if I got the job. You're reading the number one thing on the list, a blog, and today my friend Maria of Teaching in the 21st Century helped me accomplish another. Since the beginning of my library adventure I've wanted to start a Newbery Club or mock selection of some sort, after all, trying to read the Newbery winner before it's announced is what started me down the road to being a librarian.

Anyway, about two weeks ago Maria and I sat down and hammered out some logistics of the thing, I would take the lead on setting the expectations, communicating with parents, and organizing lists. Maria took the lead on showing the kids the wiki we set up, writing expectations and how comment on each other's posts.

I put together a packet with a parent signature form that clearly spelled out our expectations clearly spelled out, students must read a minimum of two books from assigned books, attend before school meetings roughly every other week, be ready to share what they are reading and write regularly on the wiki. It was stated very clearly that this club was not for everyone, it would involve lots of fairly high level reading and writing. After meeting with the whole fifth grade, I think they actually walked out of the library a little scared, they were very quiet. In fact Super Aid Yvonne even said that to me, "I think you scared them!"

I wasn't trying to scare them, but we only wanted the most serious readers to join us and I made it clear that if they failed to meet the expectations, they would be dismissed from the club. This was not a place to just "hang with your friends" this was a group who was going to be serious about reading good books.

The forms began coming back in and we ended up with 18 kids, a good number, most of them we had predicted would join, but there were a few surprises. Today we kicked it off, 17 of 18 showed up, one was sick. Just let me say this, IT WAS AWESOME! When we took a status of the group, every student had read one book on the list, most had read two and one had read three and is working on the fourth! All were excited about being there, and all worked hard on their first posts as members of the club. It was one of those moments that remind me of why I chose this profession, it was a Grand Discussion good feeling.

Later one of the kids commented that it was just awesome to be in a room of people who love to read, and I'll throw this in for my friend James Preller, it was a boy! WOO HOO!

I look forward to reading the posts and commenting on every one, I look forward to future meetings when we have time to discuss the books, I look forward to introducing Voice Thread to the group as another tool to discuss our reading.

Basically I have only one regret in organizing this group, I wish I had scheduled more before school meetings so we could get together more often.


  1. I am a regular reader of your blog Literate Lives and of Maria's Teaching in the 21st Century. I have been wondering lately how I might be able to start a book club using blogs or wikis. Is it possible to see your wiki set up? Or get a copy of the parent info letter? I think this sounds just like what I am looking for!


  2. I also would be interested in more information about the details of your group. I am considering starting a group through my daughter's school or with her friends.

  3. I just posted a follow up blog if you're interested in more details.

  4. As a parent of one of your club members.... I'm overjoyed! This has been one of the best experiences in my son's education. He is reading books that are very different from his preferred genre and finding that he not only can "tolerate" them, but actually enjoys them. He was pleasantly surprised by the Friendship Doll and we had a great conversation about the morals in the stories (even though they centered on female characters!). He is so in to it that he's trying to read 5 of the books on this month's list (simultaneously). Is there too much of a good thing? Ha ha!! In this case, I think NOT. Thanks so much for all you do to nurture our young readers.