A couple Mondays ago my monthly Book Club met and even though I haven’t finished (or honestly done more than start), I went to hear the conversation about the book, The Painted Drum by Lousie Erdich. Today as I look back, I’m actually really glad I hadn’t read the book because it really allowed me to watch and listen to the members in an adult version of what we ask students to do in Literature Discussion groups. It was fascinating to get to watch the conversation flow and to see that one reader had even made a chart for herself to help keep track of the characters and their relationships to each other! Just like in class, there is usually one who prefers to listen rather than share. Interestingly enough though, the members of the group never assume she hasn’t read the book, is incapable, or unintelligent (quite the opposite!) as we would with some students who we would push to participate, or perhaps take effort points away.
I often take away some new understanding about the book, a character, or problem than when I had come to the conversation. There was even a book that I had read the first quarter of, abandoned in annoyance, only to participate in the discussion, decided I was looking at the book from the wrong point of view, finished it and actually enjoyed it. Without the discussion, it would have just sat as dust collector on the shelf.
If you belong to a Book Club, feel free to comment on any benefits you feel you get as a teacher of comprehension.