It’s been a loooong week, as I’ve been battling laryngitis all week – it is NO fun running storytimes when you can hardly speak, and definitely can’t sing. But there was one really big highlight of the week: the 5th grade book group discussion of Regarding the Fountain, written by Kate Klise and illustrated by M. Sarah Klise.
One reason that this was such a highlight is that this particular group of kids is fantastic. Jennifer had this book group for the last two years, and she told me last May that she was really sad that they were moving up and becoming my group, because she had so enjoyed their conversations about books. I totally agree with her – every one of the kids in this group is there because he or she loves reading, and they are sweet and intelligent and thoughtful and fun.
The other reason that this month’s meeting was so good is the book activity guide that I found on the Klise sisters’ website. I usually take a look at discussion and activity guides that I find online, but I don’t often follow their suggestions to the letter. In this case, though, the activities sounded engaging, so I pulled out the pad of chart paper and the markers and went for it. We didn’t have time to do everything that is suggested on page 2 of the discussion guide, but we did brainstorm about modes of communication, both current and outdated; structural changes the kids would like to see happen at their school; idioms from the book and what they mean; and the names of characters in the book and the “translation” of those names. We also spent about ten minutes doing a more traditional discussion about the book – what they liked, didn’t like, favorite parts, characters, etc. I had hoped to also have them design their own stationery, but we simply ran out of time and didn’t get to do that.
Not every book lends itself to this type of interactive brainstorming session, but it fit the bill for Regarding the Fountain, and I highly recommend using the “official” discussion guide for this book. And the best part about this group meeting was at the end, when I remembered to tell something to Joan, the girl who had nominated the book for us to read in the first place. “Oh, Joan!” I said, “Did you know this???” And I held up the first page of the discussion guide, the page that shows the four sequels to Regarding the Fountain. She gasped with absolute delight – she didn’t know there were sequels to this book she loves – and I gave her the printout that lists all of them so that she could request the books for herself. And I promised that our library would be adding them to our collection as soon as I put my next book order through…