Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Club: Reading Children's Literature Through the Decades

This summer, I organized a summer book club for our homeschool group in honor of the 50th Anniversary of our local library.  The idea was that we would spend three weeks at a time reading children's books from each of the five decades that the library has been open--that is, three weeks on books from the 1960's, three on the 1970's, etc. up to the decade of 2000-the present.  We had meetings and also ran a private wiki where students could post their reviews or comments on the books they read.  When the three weeks were up, students nominated and voted for their favorite books in different categories, such as best picture book, best reading book, best series, etc.

For the culmination of the project, we had two tangible products.  First, we ran a book drive to get people to donate new children's books to the library (which, like most public institutions, has had some severe budget cuts in recent years).  Secondly, we created a banner where students drew their versions of the books voted in as the favorites in each decade that could hang in the library as part of the anniversary celebration.

We delivered the books and the banners to the library at the end of September.  Here is a picture of some of the readers, banner artists, and book donors as we prepared to turn our work over to the library staff:

Here is a close-up of some of the panels:

And here is the final project hanging over the circulation desk at the library:

Though it was a good bit of work, and none of us read half as many books as we intended to, those who participated all said this book club was so much fun!  It was really great to introduce our children to our favorite books from our childhood, and to have a reason to go back and read some of those great books from earlier times that we've never gotten around to reading.  Plus, it was very interesting to look into the trends in children books through the years and to notice the similarities within a single decade and the differences between the decades.  We're thinking of doing it again in a couple of years, just to get in some more of those great books that we never quite made it around to this past summer.

Anyway, I recommend it as a focus for a reading program.  Having a library to celebrate the years of great children's books is just the icing on the cake!

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