I have recently taken over Book Talk, our book discussion group for 6-9 year olds and their parents and am working to make it my own. Last night was our third meeting and between having several newbies and getting to know the old-timers I think things are finally settled.
This month we discussed How Oliver Olson Changed the World by Claudia Mills. It’s a short, simple, straightforward book about a boy whose over-protective parents won’t let him do anything normal boys get to do, including his homework. They do everything for him and do their best to shelter him from the rest of the world, all because he was very sick as a small child. Of course, in the end, Oliver (with the help of his new friend, Crystal) is able to prove to his parents that he is capable of doing his own homework and that since he is no longer sick he should be allowed to participate in activities like the school’s science sleepover.
Since I had a feeling there wouldn’t be too terribly much to discuss with this book I came prepared with an activity. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes everyone was discussed out (there’s no mystery with this one and everyone in the group was in agreement about, well, everything) so I whipped out the activity. Since one of Oliver’s assignments was to come up with an idea to change the world (his was that parents should not be allowed to do their child’s homework) I wanted the kids and their parents to do the same thing. I gave each child a slip of paper and each parent. They got a third piece of paper as well. The kids were instructed to come up with an idea on their own and write it down. The same for the parents. After they had their ideas they were to share them with each other and then together come up with an idea. It could be a combination of their individual ideas, or something brand new.
They had a lot of fun with this and there were some really great ideas! Here are some of my favorites (not verbatim):
On vacation, every family should go fishing together.
Parents should have to play with their kids whenever their kids want to and for as long as their kids want to.
I would invent a bathroom for pets with a place to flush and for the pets to clean up. (ha ha ha! Don’t we all wish for that!?)
No one is allowed to get places with things that have gas. Only electric cars, bicycles, and walking. (that would certainly change the world!)
Everyone should be required to visit another country for an extended time to learn about other cultures. (she thinks the government should pay for it, too. Hey, I’m all for that!)
People should smile at each other all the time.
You must treat each other with kindness.
All soccer locker rooms should have heated floors and hot showers. (she figured she’d start at the ground level)
All their ideas were fabulous and they were still talking about them as they were leaving for the night. That’s what I call a successful program.
For next month: Flight of the Phoenix by R.L. LaFevers We just might play around with some compasses and maps. Anything is possible!
How do you run your book clubs? Are parents invited? Do you do activities, or just talk?