Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Patrick Andrus, a fourth grade teacher in Eden Prairie, MN. He has just finished his 23rd year of teaching. He was lucky enough to stumble upon Twitter several years ago and found that it opened his world and communication with other teachers and/or authors. Patrick then began his blog, which is called ReadWonder, inspired by the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio. One of the biggest highlights of his teaching career has been the creation and development of the “Breakfast with Books” book club. Follow him on Twitter.
Many years ago, I started a book club for the students in my classroom. Wishing I had started earlier, I began keeping track of the books that were chosen about five years ago. I keep a list of these selections on my blog.
Each month I announce our selection. It is a big day when a new book is announced. The students have the choice if they would like to read the book that month. If they choose to participate, they find a copy of the book, read it on their own, and attend our monthly book club meeting. It is called “Breakfast with Books” because we meet for 45 minutes before school. The book club enjoys some tasty breakfast treats (brought by book club members) and discusses the book. “Breakfast with Books” has got to be one of the most rewarding parts of my teaching career. I usually pick all the books for the book club the summer before the upcoming school year, but I have found that I change many titles when a new, exciting, must-read book comes out during the school year.
This past school year was especially exciting for our “Breakfast with Books” Book Club because we included the authors more than I ever have in the past. We Skyped with Suzanne Selfors for our first book club of the year. She even let us order books from her and autographed them for the readers. Our second Skype visit was with Jacqueline Resnick when we discussed A Valiant Quest Escape for the Misfit Menagerie. She autographed and sent bookmarks for all the students in my class. One of the highlights of the year was when Erin Soderberg was able to join our book club in person and answered our questions about The Quirks. I know the readers couldn’t believe that the author was actually in our classroom. She was wonderful. We continued to luck out and have the next two authors join us during our book club discussion when we read The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going and By the Grace of Todd by Louise Galveston. The readers brought the year to a close with the powerful novel A Dog’s Way Home by Bobbie Pyron.
Bringing books alive with visits by the authors via the computer and/or in person has opened up my book club in more ways than I ever could have imagined. As the year comes to a close, I now need to get busy reading new books and finding those awesome authors that are willing to spend time with my fourth grade readers. Thank goodness summer is just around the corner…
Thank you, Patrick, for helping kids start their day with the best kind of Vitamin B: a book!