Friday, September 7, 2012

First Ever Meeting of The Staff Book Club

For several years now I have thought it would be great fun to have a group of teachers read some kids books and discuss them.  It's not like we don't already have enough to do, but childrens literature is much faster reading than most adult books, and it would give teachers who don't find time to read books for pleasure an opportunity to add some great reads to their list of books they may want to use with their class.

For our first ever meeting we read the book The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This Newbery winner is a classic of childrens literature, and while a few teachers had read it previously (and by previously, I mean decades ago) most everyone else had not read it.  I read this novel as a child and enjoyed it, but also recall it being dark and depressing.  Re-reading it as an adult gave me an entirely different perspective on it.  While this is not a cheery story, I appreciated the history taught through this novel.

Katherine "Kit" has come to live with her aunt and uncle in Connecticut Colony after her grandfather dies.  Her Barbados childhood was full of fun and freedom, and Kit learned both how to read and to swim from her beloved Grandfather.  When she arrives in Wethersfield and realizes how different life is there compared to what she knew, she is a bit saddened.  Her aunt Rachel and cousins Mercy and Judith spend their days working - carding wool, making candles, and doing other difficult, time consuming tasks.  Uncle Matthew is a stern, rigid figure as well, and Aunt Rachel acquiesces to whatever her husband decides.
It is easy to see that trouble will follow Kit, since even before her ship reaches land, she has managed to draw attention to herself. When a child's doll falls overboard, Kit dives into the water to rescue the toy.  Her ability to swim sets her apart from the other passengers.  When Kit befriends  a Quaker woman, Hannah, who has been called a witch by others in the community, she must keep their friendship a secret. 
Add a little romance to this book - and with three protagonists of marrying age- there is a bit of romance- and The Witch of Blackbird Pond was a novel that the four of us enjoyed reading.

I wasn't sure if we would be able to discuss this novel without a few prompts, and happily found some here.
I handed out novels to almost a dozen teachers, but only four of us met to discuss.  Despite the low numbers, I am still happy that a few made the effort.  We are unable to meet during our contracted time, so we met before our Parent Led Conferences. This is the one drawback to our staff book club - with all the time already spent at school or doing school related things, it is hard to commit to more time away from home.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a good idea, Tina, and I hope your group continues to take off. I love THE WITCH OF BLACKBIRD POND. I first read it at the suggestion of my daughter's elementary librarian. That lovely woman put so many books into my hands and told me, "Read this, and read this...". I'd be shelving books as a volunteer for her and she'd load me up and tell me she'd think of more for me to read later. Loved her.