Friday, September 23, 2011


Sharing stories...that's what draws readers to book clubs.  Book clubs not only stimulate lively discussion but sometimes even inspire meaningful personal insights. 

I am an avid reader who enjoys most genres, because of my involvement with book clubs for a number of years.  I always tried to make sure I rotated the type of book to make sure I included interests from everyone in the group.  I sometimes find myself after a particularly rousing book discussion wondering if the author had any idea when writing the book how it would be studied and dissected and debated.
I have never shied away from books that may be controversial, as evident with our upcoming discussion of The Help by Kathryn Stockett.   Although this book is a work of fiction, a lot of it is based on the life some women actually lived during the 60’s in the South.  Believe me; I can hear some of the arguments now.  Some of the best book discussions I have had the honor to host were books that would be considered challenging in a diverse book club setting. 

One controversial book that especially comes to mind as one of the best discussions – Keeping Black Boys out of Special Education by Jawanza Kunjufu.   In addition to our regular book club members, we had in attendance:  the head of special education from the local high school, 3 high school teachers, two ministers, and a mother who had a child that had been placed in special education.  There were about 20 people total – a large group for a book discussion – and it was very enlightening to say the least.  The group was very diverse – Black, white, Hispanic, young, old, men and women. 
I’ll give you one more that was a great discussion, albeit controversial….The Long Shadow of Little Rock by Daisy Bates  This book talked about the nine Black students in 1957 preparing to go to Little Rock Central High School to attempt what seemed impossible -- the integration of public schools.  I followed up the book discussion with a documentary showing Little Rock Central High School 50 years later, and the piece de resistance was the library brining in one of the Little Rock Nine - Elizabeth Eckford - to talk about her personal experiences during that time of conflict, hope, anger, and change!  A standing room only crowd filled the library that evening.  We had people come from many surrounding areas to hear her speak.  It all started with an idea for a book discussion for Black History Month and grew.....

Of course, not all the books are or will be controversial, some are just fun.  We'll talk about some of those next week.  Until then....keep reading.  ;-) 

Additional information on The Little Rock Nine:

Additional information on Keeping Black Boys out of Special Education:


MsCros said...

Don't fear controversy in a book discussion....embrace it.

Philly2AZ said...

Nothing to fear but fear itself...

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