Homeschoolers reading Spinelli's `Stargirl'

Book club

April 08, 2004

An interview with Kevin Clement, facilitator of the Home-school Book Club at the Savage library.

What are the ages of the participants? They are middle and high school students. We meet every fourth Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. They bring a bag lunch, and the library provides drinks.

Whose idea was it to have this club? The Savage library had a program for homeschoolers, both parents and children, in the fall of 2003 and I put out several ideas of activities that the library could do for homeschooled children. The book club was the idea they jumped on. I co-lead the club with Tom Neary, who is the young-adult librarian.

Were you given guidelines by the parents? No, but we are aware that many of our parents homeschool for religious reasons, so I try to be careful about the books I choose. In the first session in November, we brought a selection of books from which the kids could pick.

What did they choose? They first picked Coraline by Neil Gaiman. They didn't like it at all. They also picked She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall by Misty Bernall; and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Does the club include boys and girls? We have only girls right now, but we're trying to encourage the boys to come. In May, we'll be reading The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke. That would be a good book for boys to read.

Why is that? Most of the characters are boys. It's about a bunch of runaways in Venice, Italy, who are surviving by stealing. There's also one girl character. The characters are complex and fun. You get a little bit of Venice in there, which is kind of neat. It's just an appealing story.

What is the group reading now? Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.

Do you have any recommendations for parents who may want to lead a book club for middle-schoolers? The organizer should know what the library can and can't do. We can order books and have them available at the library for the club. As far as picking books, parents should decide what their guidelines will be for the reading material. Who is the primary audience - is it girls, boys or a mix? That could make a difference. Leaders also need to know the reading levels and interests of the kids that they want to invite. Above all, leaders need to read the books in advance and make notes so that they can [recommend] the books to the kids.

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