Families Read Together at Northport

“We’re listening to sounds of the thirties,” Lisa announced as the group settled into their seats.  With that, the last session of the Together Book Club began.

You may remember back in July when I visited the Brentwood Public Library to sit in on their Together Book Talk for Kids and Parents. Now the Northport-East Northport library is finishing up the six week parent/child book group that is funded by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Children’s librarian Lisa Herskowitz co-hosted the series with local scholar and storyteller, Heather Forest.

The themes of the weekly discussions were Being American, Courage and Freedom. Pictured here is a soap carving that participant Liam B made. He was inspired by reading The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo, one of the six featured titles. That was Liam’s favorite book because it “had good details.” He, like all the other children who participated, got to keep a copy of their favorite book that was used in the six week program.

The title the group discussed this week was The Friendship by Mildred D. Taylor, the 1988 Coretta Scott King award winner.

“In stories we often learn from the wise man, but we also learn from the fool,” Heather said. “We don’t see the best of human nature (in this book), but we do see the palette of possibility.”

Under the thoughtful discussion leadership of Lisa and Heather, the group explored topics such as the book’s examination of racism in the 1930’s and the author’s ability to capture a rural, southern accent on paper. Regarding the vernacular, one young participant noted: “It’s not like a New Yorker’s kind of talk.”

The evening ended with a “Turn and Talk” – an exchange of ideas between parent child partners. Lisa asked the ten parent/child pairs (and most of the children were boys) to discuss how the six week experience “changed their feelings about reading, books, and each other.” While I couldn’t hear what was being exhanged in the “Turn and Talk,” I could see that it was heartfelt.

Interested in hosting a Together Book Talk for Kids and Parents at your library? The next application deadline for the grant is May 15, 2012.

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