Thursday, February 2, 2012

Book Club Exchange: Hosting a May B. Book Club

I'd like to welcome back Caroline Starr Rose to Book Club Exchange, a feature on Booking Mama which highlights anything and everything book club-related! Ms. Starr Rose is the author of MAY B, a middle grade book written in verse. I absolutely loved this book (you can read my gushing review here) and I do think it would make the perfect book club pick for an early middle grade audience. I am very grateful that Ms. Starr Rose took the time from her busy tour schedule to share with you some of her ideas for a MAY B. book club.

Hosting a May B. Book Club

There are all sorts of ways to make history come alive for children. One way is to include historical fiction in your book club’s list of yearly reads. Below you’ll find some things you can do to make a discussion of May B., my historical verse novel, a memorable experience.

For the meeting before you discuss May B.:
• Agree or disagree? Who you are is based on what you can do. Have your readers explain why they feel the way they do.

• Introduce your readers to the May B. book trailer. Talk about the emotions and questions the trailer evokes. Ideally, this will spur interest in the story and get your readers ready to dig in!

Preparing for your meeting beforehand:
Be sure to download a free PDF version of May B.’s study guide. All of what I mention below is available there.

Book club day:
Here are a few ideas to spark the imaginations of your readers:

• Create your own soddy: 

In your meeting room, lay out four pieces of string measuring 20 feet, 16 feet, 20 feet, and 12.5 feet, making a rectangle with a door-sized opening at one side. This is the size of a typical sod house on the frontier. Imagine a family living together in this small space! Encourage your readers to sit in the “soddy” while having your discussion. This will serve as a reminder throughout your meeting how different pioneer lives were from our own.

• Watch a brief video on sod houses:

• Use discussion questions listed in the study guide (some samples follow):

1. May struggles with dyslexia. Before “listening” to her attempts to read, what were some clues that let you know she had trouble in school?

2. Once the Oblingers leave, May goes through a range of emotions. Pick three emotions she experiences and find passages to support them.

3. In your opinion, what poem represents May’s lowest point? Why?

• Show your readers May’s primer.

• Make a treat using sourdough starter. Send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the address below for free sourdough starter. Recipes can be found here

Oregon Trail Sourdough
P. O. Box 321
Jefferson, MD 21755 USA

• Compare and contrast: What things does May B. have in common with other frontier stories, such as Caddie Woodlawn, Little House on the Prairie, or Sarah, Plain and Tall? How is May B. different?

• Skype visit with the author: For any book club reading May B., I am happy to join you at the end of your meeting. If this is something you’d like to schedule, please email me: caroline AT caroline starr rose DOT com.

Happy reading!

Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. As a girl she danced ballet, raced through books by Laura Ingalls, and put on magic shows in a homemade cape. She graduated from the University of New Mexico and went on to teach both social studies and English in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. In her classroom, she worked to instill in her students a passion for books, the freedom to experiment with words, and a curiosity about the past. Visit her at Or discover her on Facebook, Goodreads or her blog.

If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.


Serena said...

great post with a bunch of great ideas...I like that she makes her suggestions very interactive. I'll have to check out this book

bermudaonion said...

I love these ideas! I bet having Caroline Starr Rose in your book club would be loads of fun!