In September, my daughter and I started a book circle for girls (age 9-11ish) here in Tuscaloosa. Our intention is to explore the lives and experiences of girls throughout history, both at home and abroad. Each book we read features a brave, strong overcomer who challenges us to stretch ourselves beyond what we know as people who live in Alabama, America. The fall semester was fantastic! Here is our structure:
1. We choose 6 books that the girls read and discuss during the semester. I suspected that the mamas weren’t going to want to purchase many more than this!
2. The girls take two weeks to read the book, and we discuss the first half one week, and the second half the next week. This is a great system because some girls read very fast and others not so fast. Two weeks gives the not-so-fast readers enough time to get the book finished. And it is a short enough time span, so that the rapid readers don’t forget what they read!
3. We meet for 2 hours. Discussion lasts for 1 hour, and then the girls explore and play for the 2nd hour. It is such a great time frame, because they work hard the first hour to sit still and stay engaged. The 2nd hour, they are free to run, climb and imagine. Mamas pick them up around noon.
4. Each semester carries a particular theme. For our first semester, we focused on girls around the world, all who faced great odds, danger and some sense of loss. We read The Breadwinner, Number the Stars, Wild Girl, Inside Out and Back Again, Esperanza Rising, and The Island of Blue Dolphins. These books opened our eyes to life around the globe – Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, Poland, Afghanistan and the Pacific Islands. Our spring semester will bring us back to the US, focusing on the historical biographies of young heroines in America.
5. The moms are welcome to either drop-off their daughters, or stay and listen and participate.
During fall and spring, our participants are homeschool girls. But during the summer, we will add public school friends, and will incorporate the 2014 summer reading list provided by our ISD. The girls can utilize our literature circle for anything from a social interaction and discussion, to a reading portfolio for school! If you have any suggestions on how we could make our circle even better – please let me know!
We will be starting back up in the spring – mid march. If you homeschool near Tuscaloosa, come join us.