Book Club Beginning
I always loved comic books. I love graphic novels. So did the older kids at the homeless shelter, when they read our first book club book "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
My husband is my partner in this endeavor, after having gotten up the nerve to venture into Anacostia. I think he was pleasantly surprised at the quiet residential street with the police station on the corner and no sign of trouble.
The kids arrived promptly at 6:30, each bringing the used copy of the book I had dropped off a couple of weeks before. There were five girls and one boy. There was no eye-rolling, no snarky comments, no typical teenage behavior. They were simpy there to settle in from a busy day at school and to share some laughs over this funny but poignant book.
I had put out lots of healthy snacks to stave off their hunger pangs since they hadn't eaten dinner yet -- hummus and pita, clementines and grapes.
Wimpy Kid is about 7th grade Greg, a skinny boy who figures he is around 52nd in popularity. He continues to try unsuccessfully to raise his standing. He is the middle child in his family, with an older brother who torments him and a younger brother he torments. His best friend for most of the book is Rowley, a boy even less popular than he is. His greatest strength seems to be in drawing hilarious cartoons, with recurring lines like "Zoo-eey mama!"
Greg faces several moral dilemmas, all of which these middle school kids can relate to. They have dilemmas of their own, like that of the older girl who after school had watched her friend get jumped and carried off to the hospital. I am fairly sure all of the shelter kids had experienced much worse things than the Wimpy Kid, but they still felt his pain as he got into a bind.
We asked them to imagine what Greg would be like at age 35. They imagined he would be a successful illustrator, actually not far from the job of Jeff Kinney, the author. This led to their guessing our ages -- maybe 30's or 40's! I love these kids.
We finally turned to a discussion of how our book club would work -- how often we would meet, how we would choose the books, how we could communicate between meetings. They suggested some good books and so did we.
I came home and ordered 8 copies of each of 4 books, enough to keep us busy for the next few months.
The kids' book club had been successfully launched. It felt so good!
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