Tag Archives: book club

Book Club in a Bag: New Kid Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11 in January 2021: Book Club in a Bag. This week’s feature: New Kid by Jerry Craft.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In January, these featured characters included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmark)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

New Kid Kit

The New Kid Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items depending on your budget.

Want to use make a New Kid Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

New Kid General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the New Kid kit is no different.

New Kid Bookmark – All Books

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

New Kid Bookmark – Readalikes

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Readalike titles here.

The New Kid readalike bookmark features these titles:

New Kid Discussion Questions

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the discussion questions here.

The New Kid Discussion Questions include:

  • Which five words best describe New Kid?
  • Why do you think Jerry Craft drew Jordan’s sketchbook drawings completely differently than the rest of the book?
  • Have you ever been the new kid somewhere? How was your experience the same or different from Jordan’s?
  • What makes being a new kid so challenging for Jordan?
  • Jordan’s Tips for Taking the Bus (pages 56-57): Why does his behavior change—how he looks and dresses as he moves around? What is different in each panel?
  • What does this book say about friendship? What makes a good friend?
  • Which character do you identify with the most? Why?

New Kid Swag – Buttons

This bag also included a 2.25″ New Kid button. Download a printable PDF to make them yourself here.

New Kid Crafts, Games, and More

This particular bag only included one activity: make your own journal. Supplies included:

  • Instruction Sheet (below)
  • 3 sets washi tape
  • 2 pieces cardstock (halves of 9 x 12 sheet, pre-punched)
  • 20 pieces of printer paper (10 full sheets in half, pre-punched)
  • 3 binder rings
  • Colored Pencils (not pictured)

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

Book Club in a Bag: Wings of Fire Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11 in January 2021: Book Club in a Bag. This week’s feature: Wings of Fire Kit featuring the Wings of Fire books by Tui T. Sutherland

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In January, these featured characters included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

  • Ages 6-8:
  • Ages 8-11
    • Wings of Fire (Tui T. Sutherland)
    • New Kid (Jerry Craft)
    • Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Dani Smith)
    • Shuri (Nic Stone)

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmark)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Wings of Fire Kit

The Wings of Fire Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items depending on your budget.

Want to use make a Wings of Fire Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Wings of Fire General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Wings of Fire kit is no different.

Wings of Fire Bookmark – All Books

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Wings of Fire Bookmark – Readalikes

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Readalike titles here.

The Wings of Fire readalike bookmark features these titles:

Wings of Fire Discussion Questions

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the discussion questions here.

The Wings of Fire Discussion Questions include:

  • Clay is loyal, Starflight is smart, Tsunami is a protector, Sunny is an optimist, and Glory is gentle. Which dragonet is most similar to you?
  • The original prophecy did not include a RainWing. How do the other dragonets feel about Glory? How do the dragonets relationship change over time?
  • Clay believes that he is not a “naturally-hatched hero.” What makes him feel that he does not meet expectations? Have you ever felt that you did not meet expectations? Were you able to overcome those feelings?
  • Think about the world where the Wings of Fire books take place. Can you summarize the way this world works? What are the main factions of dragons? What do you think about this place?
  • The Wings of Fire books are tied to prophecies, fate, and destiny. Can the dragons escape their “destiny”? How do the dragonets feel about their destiny? What do you think—is your destiny written in stone, or do you have the ability to change your fate?

Wings of Fire Swag – Bookmarks

This bag also included four Wings of Fire bookmarks, printed on cardstock. Download a printable PDF to make them yourself here.

Wings of Fire Crafts, Games, and More

There are so many dragon activities, and so much to do with the Wings of Fire universe that it was hard to choose. Thinking about space, prep time, and budget, I focused on three activities: which dragon are you quiz, memory game, and flying dragon craft.

Wings of Fire: Which Dragon Are You? Quiz

I recreated the Wings of Fire dragonet quiz available in the Scholastic Wings of Fire Activities & Resources.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

Wings of Fire Memory Game

Create your own Wings of Fire memory game. I left the pieces on one sheet for participants to cut out. The back of each square has the Wings of Fire logo.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

Flying Dragon Craft

Make your own flying dragon craft with a straw, pipette, and some adorable dragon pictures.

Download the dragon images here:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

And the instructions here:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF here.

Book Club in a Bag: Azaleah Lane Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11 in January 2021: Book Club in a Bag. This week’s feature: Azaleah Lane Kit featuring the Azaleah Lane books by Nikki Shannon Smith

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In January, these featured characters included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmark)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Azaleah Lane Kit

The Azaleah Lane Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items (like animal figurines) depending on your budget.

Want to use make a Azaleah Lane Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Azaleah Lane General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Azaleah Lane kit is no different.

Azaleah Lane Bookmark – All Books

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Azaleah Lane Bookmark – Readalikes

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Readalike titles here.

The Yasmin readalike bookmark features these titles:

Azaleah Lane Discussion Questions

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the discussion questions here.

**Find some of these discussion questions (and more) in the back of each book.

The Azaleah Lane Discussion Questions included:

  • General Questions:
    • Azaleah loves animals! What is your favorite animal? Where does that animal live in the wild?
    • Azaleah is the middle child; she has an older and younger sister. Are you the oldest or youngest child in your family? Somewhere in the middle? An only child? What is similar or different between your experience and Azaleah’s experiences?
    • Azaleah likes to solve mysteries! What did you do when something went missing around your house?
  • Sample Story Questions: The Dramatic Life of Azaleah Lane
    • Who did you think was behind the problems at rehearsal? How did you know? Were you right or wrong?
    • At the end of the book, you learn who was behind all of the mishaps. What do you think their consequences should be?
    • Think about the problems that happened in the theater. Can you list them in order? Try using the book for help.

Azaleah Lane Swag – Stickers

This bag also includes a printable Azaleah Lane sticker, made on 2.5″ circle Avery label paper. Download a printable PDF to make them yourself here.

Azaleah Lane Crafts, Games, and More

Azaleah loves to solve mysteries, and she loves animals, so I included activities related to those two topics.

Azaleah builds an animal habitat diorama in the first book in the series. I purchased tiny animal figurines and included a mini animal diorama kit. I also included an appropriate animal habitat background as well as a half sheet with pictures of animal diorama inspiration on one side and books to research animal habitats on the other.

You could take this activity to the next level by providing more than one animal figurine, tiny trees, and more diorama supplies–it just depends how much you want to spend and how big your kits can be.

The inspiration and research half sheet:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the animal habitat research here.

The animal habitat backgrounds:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the habitat backgrounds here.

Azaleah Lane Detective Practice

In the first two Azaleah Lane books, Azaleah examines clues, finds evidence, and collects suspects to solve a mystery! In the kit, participants built their detective skills though simple riddles and puzzles.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Puzzles and Riddles book here.

Book Club in a Bag: Yasmin Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11 in January 2021: Book Club in a Bag. This week’s feature: Yasmin Kit featuring the amazing Yasmin by Saadia Faruqi.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In January, these featured characters included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmarks)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Yasmin Kit

The Yasmin Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items (like cardboard binoculars) depending on your budget.

Want to use make a Yasmin Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Yasmin General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Yasmin kit is no different.

Yasmin Bookmark – All Books

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Yasmin Bookmark – Readalikes

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Readalike titles here.

The Yasmin readalike bookmark features these titles:

Yasmin Discussion Questions

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the discussion questions here.

The Yasmin Discussion Questions included:

  • General Questions:
    • Look at the front cover. What do you think will happen in this story? Why do you think that?
    • What emotions did Yasmin feel in this story? Does it have a happy ending for her?
    • What happened first? Next? Then what happened?
    • What does Yasmin do when she is interested in something?
    • What have you learned about Yasmin’s culture? How is this similar or different to what your family does?
  • Sample Story Questions: Yasmin the Explorer
    • What do you know about explorers? Do you think you would like to be an explorer?
    • How did your family travel to where you live now? Did your relatives come from another country?
    • Why is Yasmin excited to go to the market with her mom?
    • What symbols does Yasmin include on her map?

Yasmin Swag – 1″ Buttons

This bag also included a few pieces of Yasmin swag: five 1″ buttons. Download a printable PDF to make them yourself here.

Yasmin Crafts, Games, and More

Yasmin loves to explore her community, so my crafts and activities connect to exploration too! First, I included a set of play binoculars and materials to decorate them (stickers in this bag plus crayons in the overall larger envelope, to be used for all included kits).

I purchased white cardboard tubes online. I put two tubes next to each other, wrapped a rubber band around them, and added a strip of hot glue near the seam. I rotated the tubes until the hot glue was in between the two tubes, and left the rubber band on for a few minutes to make sure it dried. Then, I cut strips of yarn and hot glued the ends into the insides of the tubes. These are obviously not fully functioning binoculars, but they do help kids focus their eyes on just one item at a time.

I also included a half sheet with a Nature Scavenger Hunt on one side and recommended nature books on the other.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Nature Scavenger Hunt here.

Yasmin Map Kit

In the book Yasmin the Explorer, Yasmin draws her own map of her community. I like the idea of participants exploring their neighborhoods too, so I included two activities around this theme.

One was simply a blank piece of paper to use to draw your map (I had to keep something simple!):

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Draw a Map sheet here.

The other item was this cool make-a-town printable, filled with printed roads and buildings.

Access those at the Teach Beside Me blog.

Book Club in a Bag: Mindy Kim Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11 in January 2021: Book Club in a Bag. This week’s feature: Mindy Kim Kit featuring the amazing Mindy Kim by Lyla Lee.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In January, these featured characters included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmarks)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Mindy Kim Kit

The Mindy Kim Kit can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. Most of this kit can be re-created simply using a printer, with the addition of extra items (like seaweed snacks) depending on your budget.

Want to use make a Mindy Kim Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Mindy Kim General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Mindy Kim kit is no different.

Mindy Kim Bookmark – All Books

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF listing all book titles here.

Mindy Kim Bookmark – Readalikes

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Readalike titles here.

The Mindy Kim readalike bookmark features these titles:

Mindy Kim Discussion Questions

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the discussion questions here.

The Mindy Kim Discussion Questions included:

  • General Questions:
    • Mindy moved all the way from California to Florida and started at a new school. What do you think might be hard about being a new student?
    • Mindy really, really wants a puppy! Have you ever wanted a pet or something else special?
    • Mindy loves to celebrate her Korean heritage. Ask your grown-ups about your family’s culture. What traditions does your family have?
  • Sample Story Questions: Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business
    • Mindy’s classmates think her lunch is strange. What kind of foods do you like that your friends might not?
    • Mindy makes her classmates pay for her treats if they don’t have something good to trade. How do you think the kids feel who don’t have any money or good trades?
    • At first, Mindy isn’t sure how to make new friends at her school. What advice would you give Mindy?

Mindy Kim Swag – Bookmark

This bag also included a piece of Mindy Kim swag: a bookmark (printed on cardstock). Download a printable PDF to make that yourself here.

Mindy Kim Crafts, Games, and More

First up: seaweed snacks! While I wasn’t able to try these myself (full registration means no extra materials), I’m pretty sure these are not as good as (and possibly nothing like) what you would get at a Korean market–but I’m on a budget, so Amazon prepackaged snacks it is. These particular snacks are available here.

Mindy Kim Recipe Booklet

Mindy’s dad enjoys cooking, so I also included a recipe booklet filled with Korean recipes and space to insert your own family favorites. Recipes are from the websites included in the physical book.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the recipe booklet here.

Mindy Kim Yut Nori Game

My second activity for the Mindy Kim kit is an adapted Yut Nori board game set. Yut Nori is a traditional board game played in Korea, particular during the Lunar New Year. Thank you so much to reader June Cho for talking me through creating these and sending along some great tips and links!

Game boards were printed on cardstock and laminated. The four playing sticks are jumbo craft sticks with red lines on one side and blue dots on the other.

Download the board game and instructions at the links below:

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Yut Nori board here.

Slideshare not working? Download the PDF of the Yut Nori instructions here.

Book Club in a Bag: Elephant & Piggie Kit

Take-and-make kits; craft kits; programs to go: whatever your library calls these programs in a bag that have become a staple of no-contact offerings, one thing is fairly standard: these kits are well loved, but they take time to make. I love creating materials for kits and thinking about how a family might interact with program materials at home. I’ve introduced a new pair of kits for ages 6-11 this month: Book Club in a Bag. First up: Elephant & Piggie Kit.

The Book Club in a Bag kits look a bit different from some of my previous kits. Instead of focusing on just one book universe, these kits each feature four characters, hopefully some old favorites as well as some new, diverse characters.

In January, these featured characters included (links provided as the bag contents are shared on Book Cart Queens):

  • Ages 6-8:
  • Ages 8-11
    • Wings of Fire (Tui T. Sutherland)
    • New Kid (Jerry Craft)
    • Phoebe and Her Unicorn (Dani Smith)
    • Shuri (Nic Stone)

Each bag contains some repeated resources:

  • List of kit contents
  • List of books in the featured series
  • List of readalike books
  • Discussion questions
  • Swag item (button, sticker, bookmarks)
  • 1-3 crafts, games, activities

Elephant & Piggie Kit

The Elephant & Piggie kit has a few more materials than usual. I had planned an Elephant & Piggie Party over spring break 2020. Since the library closed, that party never happened, but most of the materials had been prepped (and were reused here).

Want to use make an Elephant & Piggie Kit at your library? Download the PDFs at the links below, or write a comment or send an email (bookcartqueens@gmail.com) for editable files.

Elephant & Piggie General Materials

Each bag contains some of the same basic materials, and the Elephant & Piggie kit is no different.

The Elephant & Piggie readalikes bookmark features these titles:

The Elephant & Piggie Discussion Questions included:

  • General Questions:
    • How do you know Elephant and Piggie are friends?
    • How does Piggie feel in our story? Have you ever felt that way?
    • How does Elephant feel in our story? Have you ever felt that way?
    • What was the problem in the story?
    • What happened first? Next? Then what happened?
    • How did they solve the problem?
  • Sample Story Questions: A Big Guy Took My Ball:
    • What does it mean to be fair?
    • Why is it necessary to take turns and share with others?
    • Was it fair for Piggie to get angry with Gerald for breaking her new toy?

This bag also included two pieces of Elephant & Piggie swag: a button and a sticker. Download printable PDFs to make those yourself at these links:

Elephant & Piggie Crafts, Games, and More

Again, this kit pulled from materials I created for an in-person program that never happened, so it included more than usual.

Make your own Elephant & Piggie headbands! Print the Piggie outline on pink cardstock, and Elephant on grey cardstock. I also cut strips of 11 x 17 paper for the band (folded in half to fit in the bag).

Download Elephant & Piggie Headband Templates:

Complete simple Elephant & Piggie activities, mostly from the Mo Willems website, in activity booklet ready-to-print format. Download below:

And finally, my favorite item: make your own Pigeon book! Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Don’t Let the Pigeon Write a Book! Don’t Let a Pigeon Go Outside Without a Mask! The choices are endless!

And download below:

Virtual Program: Graphic Novel Book Club

I am not a book club person. I read a lot, and I love to talk about books–but I don’t enjoy book clubs. So why did I start a virtual Graphic Novel Book Club this summer? The short version is that I like graphic novels, and a few years back I had this vision of a book club event culminating in a Skype visit with Raina Telgemeier where the kids who attended the club could ask questions but anyone could come. That program didn’t happen then, and that isn’t what happened here either.

Overall, I would say this went okay. I had 2-4 consistent kids who were excited and talked most weeks. There were also a lot of barriers here due to this being virtual, particularly with this being a new club. My library hasn’t really had a standing book club for kids in at least three years, so there wasn’t a following or just a transfer of format like Michala’s teen advisory board meetings.

We didn’t really have any of those “ah-ha” moments or meaningful conversations that I’ve heard happen at other book clubs–but, I would also say, that everyone is feeling the stress right now, and kids don’t really want to talk about their feelings or the meaning of this color palette right about now. They want to talk about drawing Pokemon and the cheetah cubs Diana (Wonder Woman) takes care of in one throwaway panel. If they want to talk at all. And that’s cool too.

Graphic Novel Book Club Details & Program Outline

For nine weeks in June and July, I met virtually with 4-10 kids, ages 8-14, for about an hour. Graphic Novel Book Club was advertised for ages 8-11, though I had three older kids sign up (though only one of them came more than once). The program registration was capped at 15 kids, registration only ever reached 13, and I only ever had at most 10 kids at a time, with an average of 5-6 kids each week.

Our library uses GoToMeeting for online meetings, and I used that for Graphic Novel Book Club as well. Other than some issues with my personal computer overheating, I had no problems with the platform (and the kids didn’t seem to have any problems either).

We only read graphic novels available on Hoopla, which worked fine for the summer but is quite limiting long term. This service is ideal for book club titles, however, because everyone can download each book at a time most convenient for them (no waiting or holds lists) and everyone can check out the same title at once (unlike Overdrive or Cloud Library). A few kids did have physical copies of some of the books, purchased by their parents (this wasn’t encouraged; it just happened).

Our Graphic Novel Book Club reading list included:

Hoopla works well while we are stuck in a virtual world, though it has its frustrations. Of course, it doesn’t have every graphic novel, and it is very, very short on diverse graphic novels. There are so few own voices kids graphic novels in the first place, and Hoopla is particularly lacking. If this book club continues, I’m going to work on coming up with an alternative way to get books to kids.

My kids are avid readers and would actively admit (1) that they had already read these books (more often) or (2) that they didn’t finish a book (less often). Some of them became frustrated toward the end of Graphic Novel Book Club because they had read all of the remaining book club books weeks in advance or before book club had occurred. These kids really wanted the newest graphic novels (and 17 of those new books at a time), which left me especially frustrated with the limitations of Hoopla.

Book Clubbing Virtually

So getting back to my struggles with book clubs, which were exacerbated by being virtual. I had some personal technical issues, but those situations are often specific to your tech and can happen no matter how well you plan. Other unique elements of book clubbing virtually:

  • Kids can and will turn their cameras on and off.
  • Kids can and will get distracted by pets, home life, etc.
  • Kids can and will say nothing for the entire meeting (or the entire meeting for all seven weeks they show up).

I have strategies to encourage conversation in person that simply don’t translate online. I also don’t want to force kids to talk in any situation. As I said to the kids sometimes, THIS ISN’T SCHOOL. Graphic Novel Book Club, or any library program, isn’t a punishment, it isn’t an assignment, and while I want to encourage learning, you are not going to be quizzed at the end of this meeting about the book, your understanding of shading in the panel, or your drawing ability.

With an effort to respect kids’ decisions on how much they want to participate, I was often left feeling alone and sort of like I was putting on a show. When I ask “who was your favorite character?”, and all six cameras immediately turn off, and we sit in silence for three minutes, I’m left having to crack a joke, give my own response, and try to shift gears. Repeatedly, for an hour, week after week. It is exhausting and makes me respect teachers even more.

Now, some of this behavior is probably due to my choices with how I want to run Graphic Novel Book Club. I could have required kids to talk, pulled names out of jar, made everyone fill out a character analysis worksheet each week, forced everyone to sit in silence until someone shared a discussion question. But, again, my mentality toward librarianship, especially during current times, is that we are trying to create a love of learning and reading. Forcing kids to do assignments or activities or even forcing participation goes against that. I will stop ranting now and get on to the important things you are reading this for.

Graphic Novel Book Club Weekly Schedule

Kids were asked to bring blank paper and a pencil to each meeting.

Each week we followed this approximate schedule:

  • Introduced Myself (Librarian) (1 min.)
  • Explain/Review How GoToMeeting Works (1 min.)
    • How to mute and unmute
    • How to turn off your camera
    • Chat feature
    • How to see everyone instead of just person talking
    • Librarian can share her screen
  • Library Updates (3 min.)
    • Summer Reading Program
    • Upcoming Programs
    • Reminder to doodle as you like!
  • Introductions (5 min.)
    • Share your name
    • Share anything you’ve been writing or drawing
    • Answer this week’s Would You Rather Question
    • *Answers could occur verbally or in chat. Not everyone participated each week.
  • Warm-Up Game (10 min.)
  • How Book Club Works (5 min.)
    • Review weekly schedule
    • Decided guidelines as a group and reviewed them each week:
      • Be kind and respectful.
      • Everyone gets a turn to talk without being interrupted.
      • You can raise your hand if you want to talk. You can also just talk as long as you aren’t interrupting someone else.
      • You only have to talk if you want to.
      • Have fun!
  • Discussion (10-15 min., intended to be 15-30 min.)
    • Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Book Vote
    • Tell me what the book is about (10 words or less)
    • Kids offer questions (never happened but always asked)
    • I ask about 3-5 questions, steering conversation where it makes sense.
  • Let’s Talk Comics/Drawing Activity and Sharing (15-20 min.)
  • Wrap Up (2-3 min.)
    • Next week’s title
    • Reminder about programs

Would You Rather Questions

The kids really seemed to enjoy the Would You Rather questions. Sometimes these connected to the book of the week, sometimes they didn’t. Questions we used included:

  • Would you rather have edible spaghetti hair that regrows every night or sweat maple syrup?
  • Would you rather be a superhero or a wizard?
  • Would you rather have a unicorn or dragon as a best friend?
  • Would you rather have super speed or super strength?
  • Would you rather live sometime in the past (you get to choose when and where) or sometime in the future (except you don’t know what the future looks like)?
  •  Would you rather have awesome super powers—but have to live in secret on an island with no other kids—or would you rather have a normal life (but have no superpowers)?
  • Would you rather have to fight 100 pigeon sized zebras or one zebra sized pigeon?
  • Would you rather have a horse’s tail or a unicorn horn?
  • Would you rather have a hamster-sized elephant or an elephant-sized hamster for a pet?

Weekly Warm-Up Games

Each week, we played a different warm-up game as a group. Some of these games included:

Fonts didn’t carry over for any of these PPTs, even after trying to edit to a common font. My font of choice for this program was ObelixPro.

Guess that Character: Identify the popular character from their silhouette.

Mad Libs: Asked kids to write down a series of words and then read the words in the Mad Lib aloud. (*Not very popular. Only two kids participated.)

Name that Tune: Guess the song from just a few seconds of music. Used this playlist.

Pixelated Book Covers: Identify the blurry book cover.

Scavenger Hunt: Find items around your house that fit certain categories like “something that is orange” or “something that starts with the letter M.”

Two Truths and a Lie: Share three piece of information, two true and one a lie. Everyone has to guess. (*Not very popular. Few kids participated, though they enjoyed guessing.)

Zoomed In Images: Guess the item or cover from the zoomed in image.

Discussion Questions

I learned pretty quickly that deep discussion questions weren’t going to go anywhere, so the longer the series went on, the less I worried about these, and the more light I kept things. I chose 3-5 questions to focus on each week and let things go where they wanted.

General Graphic Novel Questions:

  1. Is reading a graphic novel different than reading a text novel? How?
  2. Would this book have been better or worse without pictures?
  3. How does the art make you feel and why?
  4. What did the creator show? What wasn’t shown that your brain filled in?
  5. What does the story or character remind you of?
  6. What surprised you most?
  7. What would you change about the setting or characters if you were writing this book?
  8. What is something you don’t want to forget from this book?
  9. Which character most reminds you of yourself?
  10. If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask them? (I sent these to the authors via Twitter each week, and some of them actually responded!)

Anti/Hero:

  1. Sloan vs Piper – who did you like better? Who do you think you are the most like?
  2. Page 16 – Compare Sloan and Piper’s lives. What do you learn from the images?
  3. Who would you want to switch bodies with?
  4. If you did switch bodies, what would you do?

Diana Princess of the Amazons:

  1. Before reading this book, what did you know about Wonder Woman?
  2. Themyscira is a pretty cool place. What would you like most about living there? Least?
  3. When Diana is bored, she says “It seems like I’m either too old or too young for everything. Stuck in the middle.” Do you ever feel like that? When?
  4. Mona convinces Diana to do some things Diana knows are wrong—like steal food and make fun of other people and skip class. Have you had a friend like that?
  5. Quick Sketch: Draw the scariest monster to come out of Doom’s Doorway!
  6. Diana grows up to become a superhero! Who is your favorite superhero and why?

El Deafo: (*Most robust discussion!)

  1. The title of the book is Cece’s superhero name. What would your superhero name be?
  2. This is a memoir. What does that mean?
  3. Why do you think Cece Bell made the characters rabbits?
  4. Our world is designed for those capable of hearing. What are ways you notice that the world is hard for people who are deaf?
  5. Cece’s first best friend Laura is kind of mean. Cece dreams about ending the friendship, but she doesn’t because being friends with Laura is better than her “bubble of loneliness.” Do you agree?
  6. Cece doesn’t want to learn sign language. Why do you think that is?

The Lightning Thief (graphic novel):

  1. Who has read the chapter book? How did these two compare?
  2. What do you have to think about when adapting a chapter book into a graphic novel?
  3. Who is your favorite character?
  4. You all had some great things you loved about Themyscara. What would you like most about Camp Half Blood? What would you like least?
  5. What magical powers or elements would you like to control? If you could be related to one mythical Greek god, who would it be?

Lumberjanes Vol. 1:

  1. Look at the Lumberjanes cover. What do you think the book would be about based on the cover? Should people judge a book by its cover?
  2. Who is your favorite Lumberjane? Why?
  3. Why do you think they included so many snippets from the Lumberjanes manual and information about Lumberjanes badges?
  4. Let’s talk about characters. How do their names “fit” or “not fit”? How do their names influence our perceptions of the characters? (April, Molly, Ripley, Jo, Mal, Jen)
  5. In the “Message from the Lumberjane High Council” in Volume 1 it says: “…Whether you are a dancer or a misfit, career girl or a social elite, you have a place at this camp — no matter how different you feel.” How does the story and the characters reflect this?
  6. There are 13 Lumberjanes Volumes and nearly 80 issues, spin off books, chapter books—what do you think happens next?

My Video Game Ate My Homework:

  1. What does this story remind you of?
  2. What do you think of the artwork, especially how the characters are drawn?
  3. If you got a magical video game superpower – what would you want it to be? (page 28)
  4. What would you have in your own clubhouse? (page 19)
  5. What video game or imaginary world would you like to enter? What world would you never want to enter?
  6. Dewey has dyslexia, which makes it hard for him to read. We all have things that make some things harder for us than others. If you want to share, what is something that is harder for you?

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy

  1. How does this feel different than other graphic novels we have read?
  2. Did this feel preachy or did you not notice you were learning something?
  3. Would you want to read a book like this in school?
  4. What school topics would you like to learn about as comics?
  5. Is this book funny? How?
  6. What do you think of this book’s coloring?

New Kid: (We didn’t really get to any of these, as this book seemed to be a bit too old for the kids who attended that week, who all admitted to not finishing it.)

  1. Which five words best describe New Kid?
  2. Why do you think Jerry Craft drew Jordan’s sketchbook drawings completely differently than the rest of the book?
  3. What makes being a new kid so challenging for Jordan?
  4. Have you ever been the new kid somewhere? How was your experience the same or different from Jordan’s?
  5. Jordan’s Tips for Taking the Bus (pages 56-57): Why does his behavior change—how he looks and dresses as he moves around? What is different in each panel?
  6. What does this book say about friendship? What makes a good friend?

Phoebe and Her Unicorn:

  1. Are you more of a Phoebe or a Marigold Heavenly Nostrils?
  2. If you had one magical wish, what would it be?
  3. These are collections of comic strips. What makes this book different than the graphic novels we have read before? 
  4. Think about how Phoebe and Marigold met. What stands out about that scene?
  5. How does the friendship between Phoebe and Marigold change and grow throughout the story? How do you see that difference in the illustrations and the text?
  6. When the story starts, do you like Phoebe and Marigold equally? How does that change?
  7. Page 111: Is there anything more embarrassing than parents?

Let’s Talk Comics

This is the part of Graphic Novel Book Club I feel like I bungled the most. I didn’t come in with a clear week-to-week plan, and this ended up being the part of the program the kids were the most excited about.

About three weeks into the program, I found these resources, which I highly recommend using to frame your own series:

My weeks were much more haphazard, with essentially a random drawing challenge each week. These included:

  • Random Creature and Action
  • Random Setting
  • Story of meeting your magical creature best friend (4 panels)
  • First Day at a New School (include dialogue and more than one panel)
  • Egg Challenge (draw what comes out of this egg)
  • Combine animal + food = Character!
  • Drawing Motion (guest artist – fellow librarian)
  • Think about your favorite character from a book, show, or movie. Choose to adapt or expand their story in at least three panels.
  • Dog Man Challenge: Draw 5 creatures. Take the head of one and the body of the other and merge them.

I did include a few more detailed activities/”lessons” some weeks, including:

Fonts didn’t carry over for any of these PPTs, even after trying to edit to a common font. My font of choice for this program was ObelixPro.

Adaptations vs Universe Expansions

Characters (Taken heavily from the Digital Comics Club resources)

Graphic Novel and Comic Overview (Taken heavily from the Digital Comics Club resources)

Graphic Novels You Should Read