I have a confession to make – I never participated in a book club before becoming a bookseller. I wasn’t opposed to them but I didn’t see the point of being part of an organized group created with the sole purpose of discussing books. Book discussions should just happen organically, shouldn’t they? I also felt the same way about “play dates” before I became a parent, believing play just happened when kids were around each other. My opinions aside, both book clubs and play dates continue to increase in popularity for a variety of reasons. In the case of book clubs, both virtually, and in person.
So the irony isn’t lost on me that our World Explorers kids club was the first of the book clubs we introduced at The Book Garden.
However, the members of World Explorers, who range in age from 6ish to 11ish, chose NOT to have book discussions be the focus of their book club. That would be “too much like homework” (their words). Instead, they wanted to explore the world through stories (my words). So we’ve traveled to France with Madeline, and Charlotte of Giverny, visited a community of Gnomes who live along the hiking path by the river and most recently explored the world of play writing and performing.
The kids decided to perform a Thanksgiving play written and directed by one young lady, Keilah, with a little embellishment from the others. So on what would typically be a quiet afternoon just before the holiday season, our read-in kitchen was filled with the sounds of laughter, discussions, bumping and running, and a few raised voices as the kids rehearsed Thanksgiving in Frenchtown.
To be honest, I hadn’t been looking forward to this afternoon’s gathering of the World Explorers. I was tired and still had a lot to do in preparation for the holiday shopping season – last minute ordering, inventory counts, press releases for events, and the list goes on. Preparing snacks for and watching over a pack of energetic kids, including my daughter wasn’t high on my list of things I wanted, or needed, to do.
After an hour of rehearsal the 12 or so World Explorers turned our little shop into an impromptu, and somewhat disorganized, theater and performed for a handful of parents and one or two lingering customers. I smiled as two turkeys escaped, got chased around by townspeople and then the mayor declared that Thanksgiving would be a vegetarian holiday. The Turkeys were invited to join in the community dinner. Certainly a story line well suited to our town where a variety of vegetarian options are featured on all the restaurant menus. I was impressed with how much these kids were able to do in so little time and I was proud of Keilah for taking the lead in making it all happen.
When the kids took their final bow I know I was clapping the loudest. I’d been reminded why I wanted to organize a kids’ book club — because sometimes magic happens given the right conditions and a little coaxing.
While I still believe impromptu book discussions over dinner and an unplanned afternoon at a friend’s house should be common occurrences, I appreciate the importance of setting aside time to do things we love – and to not let the things we love get pushed aside by the long list of must dos. So bring on the book clubs because I don’t know about you, but I for one have a tough time making the time to read an entire book these days. That irony isn’t lost on me either!