Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Reading Group

Recently, I volunteered to lead one of the reading groups in the BG's class. This involves leading a weekly thirty minute discussion of a book chosen by the group from a set deemed appropriate for the reading level of its members (3 boys and 2 girls).

I drew the most advanced group, probably because it includes the BG. This means that I will have no trouble making sure that the kids do their assigned reading, or in eliciting opinions. The book we are starting with is The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963, by Christopher Paul Curtis, who by chance, is a Michigan-based writer who appears to live in Windsor, Ontario, where I was born (He even thanks the Windsor Public Library in the book!).

The book, which I suspect has the goal of sneaking a history lesson into a good story, recounts the trip of a sitcom-ready family from Flint to Birmingham. Here's the synopsis from Amazon:
The year is 1963, and self-important Byron Watson is the bane of his younger brother Kenny's existence. Constantly in trouble for one thing or another, from straightening his hair into a "conk" to lighting fires to freezing his lips to the mirror of the new family car, Byron finally pushes his family too far. Before this "official juvenile delinquent" can cut school or steal change one more time, Momma and Dad finally make good on their threat to send him to the deep south to spend the summer with his tiny, strict grandmother. Soon the whole family is packed up, ready to make the drive from Flint, Michigan, straight into one of the most chilling moments in America's history: the burning of the Sixteenth Avenue Baptist Church with four little girls inside.
When I asked my group why they had chosen this book, the consensus answer was that it was the only book none of them had read that looked funny.

I assigned the first two chapters last week, and my initial take on the writing is that it is middling. The humor seems a little contrived (particularly the scene where an older brother gets his tongue stuck to a car's side mirror--an episode presented much more humorously in A Christmas Story:

We'll have our fist discussion on Thursday, and I'll report back if there's anything interesting that comes out of it

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