My library reading group is Book Bears. We read a book each month, and I host the discussion. These are mostly second graders, eager to read. We have a full and lively house, until… Let me back up. Many things have happened.
When Book Bears first met in September, everyone brought their favorite book that they read over the summer. I did, too. I brought Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. He was also the author of Where the Red Fern Grows.
Every summer I get lost in books, just like the Book Bears. Sometimes there is one that sticks with me for a long time. A very long time. This one did. His writing is fluid. His words are a quiver of arrows, shot to the heart.
Book Bears now know that. I read a random page from the book. That’s all it took. They were hooked. They asked me to read this book aloud to them, at the end of our Book Bear sessions. No problem. Happy to do that. Reading aloud really is the Holy Grail.
The next meeting I read aloud for the last 5 or 10 minutes. That turned out to be a teaser. They wanted more. The following session, the children couldn’t stand it any longer. I read for 15 minutes. And then I knew that the Book Bears wanted read-aloud as much as they wanted to read.
I asked Ashvik after our Book Bears session, “Did you like the book?” It was a terrific book by Kate DiCamillo.
He said, “Not really. Well, it was okay. I like what you read. Remember when you read Indian in the Cupboard? I didn’t get to hear the end of that book. My school has that book. I got to read it!”
We added a full thirty minutes to the end of Book Bears. That meant we went from discussing our current book for thirty minutes, to hearing Jennie read aloud Summer of the Monkeys for thirty minutes. These kids stayed. Every parent loved it.
Still, it wasn’t enough.
Last week we got to page 36. You have no idea all that we read aloud, and the wonderful stops to talk about what happened. Might as well have been 360 pages. Jay Berry and Grandpa have come up with a plan to catch the monkeys. There are thirty monkeys and one chimpanzee. The reward for each monkey is $2.00. The reward for the chimpanzee is $100.00.
That sparked questions, and math calculations. Two dollars didn’t seem like much to the Book Bears, but one hundred dollars did. We stopped to talk about when the book was written (they were amazed that it was written the same year I was married), yet we knew the story was long before that. Late 1800’s. I took a wild stab and guessed that the money had multiplied ten times.
We had a great math session, recalculating and adding each $2.00, plus the $100.00. No calculators, no pencils. It was the best. But, my guess was wrong; the money had far more than grown ten times. I can’t wait to tell Book Bears that our calculation of $1,060.00 in todays dollars is well short.
Since we were only on page 36, we stopped to calculate how many pages we would need to read in order to finish the book by June. Not looking good. The children asked me to use my iPhone calculator to figure this out. We huddled together. Seriously. They were a little worried. I said, “To make the math easy, let’s say we’re on page 40. The book has 290 pages. Subtract the 40 we have read, and we have 250 pages left to read in five more meetings.” Not good, because we stop all the time to talk. That’s what happens with a good book.
We’re adding another session in order to read aloud this book. I left the library feeling like all the words we had spoken were now stars shooting out of my body. I was full of stars. Never underestimate the power of reading aloud, no matter the age.
Have you ever read one line, one statement in a book, that knocked you off your feet? This one from Summer of the Monkeys did just that:
“It was the inside of my grandpa that really counted. He had a heart as big as a number four washtub; and inside that wrinkled old hide of his was enough boy-understanding for all the boys in the world.”
Words are magic, aren’t they? They take us to places, make us understand, make us laugh and cry. When words are well crafted, they leave a ‘forever’ mark. E.B. White’s words do that. Kate DiCamillo’s words do that. So do Wilson Rawls’ words.
If you love boys and dogs, grandpas, incredible adventures, and one of the best stories written, Book Bears recommends Summer of the Monkeys. I do, too.
You put so much effort into writing this wonderful article thank you so much. I will definitely need to have a look at this wonderful book 🙂
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. The book is terrific.
This was lovely!
Haven’t been a part of a book club in ages!
It’s lots of fun and a great way to encourage children to read.
Agreed! How do you choose the books?
Often a book is recommended to me. When it comes to knowing if it’s the right book for the group of children, I go on my gut. After a gazillion years of teaching and reading aloud, I can usually tell. Thanks!
That’s awesome. Thanks for chatting with me! 🙂
You’re welcome, Alex. 🙂
My daughter loves that book. 🙂 While my kids read all the time, we still do read-alouds with them.
That is wonderful! I had not read the book until last summer. I’m so glad these children in Book Bears really want me to read the book to them.
Reading aloud is fabulous. Michael has an auditory processing problem, so he reads slowly although he is accurate. We read together. He reads one page, I read three or four. That way we get through the book fast enough to keep the magic alive.
I love that idea of sharing the reading. The most popular thing here is reading to a dog. Libraries have started that program, and they are swamped with children signing up. They have found that many children like Michael do well reading to a soft loving dog who listens no matter how slowly they read.
That is such an innovative idea.
I think so, too!
I like the way you were able to sneak in the math without the children realizing it. Very Impressive reading club worth emulating!
Yes! And the children thought the math was fun. Next time they’ll get to recalculate. Many thanks, Peter. Glad you enjoyed this.
What a beautiful experience for you and the kids.
This book sounds amazing and one I wasn’t familiar with. Sounds like the kids are hooked. You do such a great job of keeping their interest, which is quite an accomplishment these days.
Thanks, Darlene. I think it’s as good as his “Where the Red Fern Grows”. I meant to say in the post that after 20 minutes of Book Bears they asked, “Can you read the monkey book now?” Wow!
That’s a great quote from the book, Jennie. No wonder the kids enjoyed it so much.
Best wishes, Pete.
The book sounds wonderful, but the time, energy and emotion that you put into this group is really amazing, Jennie. I think just knowing that an adult cares enough to do that is a great experience for these kids.
Thank you Dan! I do love it, and it makes a difference with children.
It does, because it shows. You can’t fool children.
You hit the nail on the head, Dan.
Well done, Jennie. Huge hugs.
Many thanks and hugs, Teagan!
Oh, Jennie, I loved this post for so many reasons. The quote is amazing. Your kids enthusiasm is priceless! Your post is a great testament to the value of reading aloud, and especially to the value of taking the time to pause and discuss what you’ve just read. The Book Bears are so very fortunate to have you in their world, and I can tell that you feel the same about them! – Susan
P.S. I don’t know Summer of the Monkeys. I’ve added it to my list
Thank you, Susan! Enthusiasm is contagious. I stop often when I read aloud to have discussions. Today at the library I stopped to look at Roman numerals in “My Father’s Dragon” with children. They had no idea how to read them. Learning can be fun! If you liked “Where the Red Fern Grows”, this one will be a favorite.
As a retired high school teacher, I am uplifted to Read about your experiences reading aloud to your Book Bears. They are so fortunate to have you, Jennie!
Thank you, John. Coming from you, that means a lot.
Thanks, Jennie – I’m a fan.
That was also a magical read aloud in my third grade classroom years back. Terrific book! Reading your posts brings tears to my eyes sometimes-celebrating the goodness you are doing and missing it much.
Thank you so much, Tammy. I wish I’d read this when I was younger.
Jennie, I love hearing about your reading sessions and these Book Bear sessions are fabulous. This sounds like a wonderful book, and I love the quote from it you chose to share. Books are indeed magic, and read aloud sessions are magic in the way they turn children onto books, reading and words. I love the way you incorporated maths into this session. There is much more to a reading session than simply reading the words on the page. Discussion and relationships are what it’s all about, and opening up little minds to think and share ideas. Somehow, I think you’d perform magic with any book you read to your little Book Bears.
Jennie, I got all goose-bumpy reading this. Such a wonderful experience for child and adult alike. To make a difference in a child’s life is priceless ❤
Thank you, Tina! It is priceless.
It’s so wonderful to capture a child’s imagination with a book… so much that they want to hear it all!!
So true, Ritu!!!
This sounds wonderful, Jennie. I love that passage and I can understand why the children couldn’t get enough. I’m adding it to my reading list for Tornado Boy. He’ll be ready soon. 🙂
Thanks, Diana. That passage swept me off my feet. You will love the book. How old is Tornado Boy? Apologies that I don’t remember. A perfect read aloud for 3rd graders. The 2nd graders in my Book Bears group are more like 3rd graders.
He’s only 4, so we’re a few years away. We’re just starting chapter books. But I have a folder on the laptop where I keep posts about great books (for him and for me). Your recommendation is in there. ❤
Wonderful! 4 is what I teach. Love that age!
I’ve never been a great out loud reader but have done the best with it when necessary. It has helped my children and a stepdaughter with their reading so I know how important it is. It will pull them into a story like self reading my not immediately. Very much enjoyed reading this post.
I love your words and your story, Marlene. You’re so right. Thank you, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
I love your posts about the Book Bears, Jennie. They’re so engaging and vivid. This one is no exception. Happy Weekend hugs.
Thank you, Teagan. So glad you enjoy them. Happy weekend to you. 🙂
I loved that quote, just want to hug that wrinkled old grandpa.. 😀 and I love the name Book Bears.
And I can see why your class so worried the story would not get finished..
I remember well when I was in primary school our teacher read us each day for fifteen minutes prior to our going home time the Book The Borrowers.. So fired up was my imagination of Little people and the bits and pieces they used that would be borrowed that they would use in their home beneath the floorboards.. Something I never forgot.. And when the film and TV came to bring it to life, I relived it all over again 😀
What you create here, I know your little Book Bears will remember well into their adulthood xxx
Aww… that’s so nice, Sue. And, thanks for sharing your wonderful childhood story of The Borrowers.
Well you’ve certainly got me curious about this book Jennie. What a wonderful book club and the interaction is marvelous. Based on the chat evoked in this gathering you may have to add yet another session. 🙂
Debby, do you know “Where the Red Fern Grows”? This book is the author’s other winner. I read it last summer, shared a page or two with Book Bears, and the rest is still an unfolding, sit on the edge of your seat read aloud. Yes, I may have to add another session to get through 250 pages. Life is good!
That is wonderful Jennie. And yes, I’ve heard of that book and now I’m off to check it out on Amazon. Thanks for your wonderful recommendations. 🙂 Life is good! xx
Thank you, Debby. Yes, life is good, because of reading and reading aloud. I promise, cross my heart, that you will be consumed by this book. Today at school it happened again, sparks and deep discussions about the chapter book we’re reading. Blog post!
Wonderful Jennie! 🙂
Lovely book with great language and vocabulary included, Jennie. I liked Where the Red Fern Grows, but monkeys are always very entertaining. Pippi Longstocking had her menagerie, a monkey, horse and two close friends. It was quite a fantasy which I enjoyed immensely. The funny sequence of a beauty shop which has lotion to remove freckles and how Pippi is so confident and says she would like a jar which would increase her freckles rather than have them disappear made me laugh, but also helped me realize no one should want to change the way they look. I’m not sure if boys would laugh, but when she puts boys in trees, they may take notice. 😀
I love that book, Robin. Haven’t read in ages. Thanks so much for your wonderful words. Always full of insight and heart. 🙂
Reblogged this on black CATastrophy.
Thank you, Alexis!
You’re welcome! 😊
I remember you mentioning Summer of the Monkeys before and I can’t believe I STILL haven’t read it. This time it’s going on my list. Great post!
Thanks, Marcia! Oh, you will love this book. 🙂
Reading aloud really is the Holy Grail. I love this line and it is so true. How wonderful to “hook” kids on books in this way.
Yes!! It really is true, as you know. Thanks so much, Dayne.
What an amazing way to encourage children to establish their love of reading at a fairly young age!! And great choices in book!
Thank you so much!
It’s crazy to see that a few words from a book can hook someone into reading it especially the younger generation. Keep that book club going😊
Thank you, Charlie.