Monday, May 10, 2010

Book Club (Babble)

The first real event I got to host in my new house was my daughter’s book club meeting last weekend.  I volunteered to host book club because I figured it would give me good incentive to get cleaned up and organized, plus I thought it would be nice for Aden to have so many of her friends over at one time in her new house.  I think everything went well.

The idea of a mother-daughter book club was first suggested to me by a friend years ago when our two oldest girls were both pretty small.  She said she knew people whose kids were in sixth grade, and that they’d meet every month to discuss a book, do a craft and have a snack.  That sounded so sweet to me that I asked her if she wanted to start our own mini book club using picture books.  It was nice, but we were only able to make that happen twice.  My friend and I have schedules that are hard to coordinate, so the little book club faded away although the idea of it stayed with me.

Then recently a different friend with better networking skills than mine asked me if I wanted to participate in a book club for Aden and some other kids in her class.  Most of the other kids in the club are boys so it wasn’t quite the same book club I’d originally envisioned, but I knew it would be fun, so we’ve been meeting about every six weeks since the beginning of the year.  We started out with some of the Magic Treehouse books, but whoever hosts the meeting gets to pick the book, and for this most recent meeting Aden chose The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

It’s a marvelous book, if a bit dark for second graders.  It has beautiful pencil drawings that function more like sections of a graphic novel rather than illustrations.  I’d read it to Aden last year and she wanted her friends to hear it too.  Since the story takes place in Paris we made crepes for the snack (which is not as elaborate as it sounds because we make crepes at home so often I could do them in my sleep), and since there is a lot in the book about clockworks we painted clocks.  (While looking around online for clock parts for my clock project in the kitchen, I came across a great sale where you could buy a whole unpainted clock kit really really cheap, so it was hard to resist.  Kids do so many crafts that you run out of room for, but a clock you can actually use so it seemed like a good way to go.)

I’m typing this on Mother’s Day, and that combined with thinking about the book club has me reflecting on how many wonderful moms I know.  One of my great regrets in life is that I don’t have the kind of time to devote to cultivating some of these relationships more deeply, but events like the book club at least give me a sense of what remarkable people are out there.  It’s been nice to take turns being in the homes of different families and to get to know some of the kids my daughter spends most of her days with.  All the moms in the book club are warm and talented in different ways, and seem like genuinely supportive people.  Even though I don’t know them as well as I’d like, I honestly believe if I were in a crisis and reached out to any of them, they would respond in a heartbeat.  That’s what good moms do.  Truly good moms have a quality about them that extends past the care of their own children to having a nurturing influence where it’s needed in their greater environment.  Part of how I knew I wanted to be a mom was that I had a protective sense about kids in general, not just a desire to have my own.

The book club provides a lot of good opportunities to talk to our kids about topics that don’t come up in an average day.  I’m always surprised and impressed at what the kids have to say about the books.  The favorite moments in the stories for the moms are invariably different from those of the kids, and that’s interesting too.  I think it’s good to have a forum with an equal number of kids and adults where everyone is listened to, and anyone can lead the discussion. 

Admittedly the adults usually set the pace and ask the questions, but a couple of kids in particular do contribute a great deal.  With The Invention of Hugo Cabret we were even able to explain to our kids a little bit about how they live in a privileged time where people often have kids because they really want them and hope to spend time with them.  The book is set during an earlier part of the twentieth century when many things were harder and the children in the book are not treated tenderly.  We got a chance to explain the word hypocrisy.  And then we got to eat strawberries and yogurt and nutella on crepes and paint clocks.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I feel like the house has been officially broken in for entertaining.

I hope we’re able to keep the book club running for a long time.  You never know how things will work out with people’s lives and scheduling with families, but book club is worth making time for.  It’s always good to make time to read.  (And do a craft and have a snack.)

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