Thursday, October 1, 2015

31 Days of Book Detectives ~ Day 1: Introduction

31 Days of Book Detectives ~ Introduction @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[It’s October, which means you’ll be seeing 31 Days of ________ series popping up all over the blog world. I’ve never attempted a 31 Days series in all my 8 1/2 years of blogging, so this is a new experience for me. Let’s see if I have the perseverance…]

Several years ago, I was introduced to the idea of a parent-child literary analysis book club by the inspiring book Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading. After my first read-through, I was itching to begin my own book club, but I felt deeply my lack of experience with literary analysis. Sure, I could try to reproduce the fascinating discussions laid out in Deconstructing Penguins, with the specific books recommended by the authors, but I simply didn’t possess the confidence.

Some time later (a little over four years ago, to be exact), I had the opportunity to sit through a practicum using the Teaching the Classics DVDs and Syllabus. A fire was lit. I finally had universal literary analysis tools that could be used to discuss any piece of literature, from simple picture books to Hamlet.

Armed with these new tools from Teaching the Classics and the “book as mystery” concept from Deconstructing Penguins, my sister and I launched our very own Book Detectives parent-child book club with 12 kids (ages 5-10) and 10 parents. [You can read about our first meeting here.]

We all learned together by trusting the process and discussing books with each other. We started with picture books and then began to throw a few simple chapter books in the mix. I’ve shared some of our discussions here on the blog. [Scroll down to read the early discussions.]

Since then, I’ve led various Book Detectives groups, with various kids at various ages in various quantities, and they have all been a blast! I’ve discovered that picture books are magic, an accessible portal into the world of literary analysis for any age. I have been astounded at what I’ve learned from a focused look at simple books such as Brave Irene or The Real Thief, even if I had read them numerous times before.

I’ve found other helpful resources for literary discussion, as well. We’ve used the “ANI” chart from The Lost Tools of Writing to discuss whether a character should have performed an action in the book. [Example discussions here and here.] I’ve participated in a fascinating discussion of a picture book with other adults using the 5 Common Topics (also introduced in The Lost Tools of Writing or explained well in The Question by Leigh Bortins). The 5 Common Topics have become one of my favorite general discussion tools, whether for literature or life.

Honey for a Teen’s Heart is an excellent resource for discussing books with teens, including worldview questions that can be asked of any piece of literature.

A year ago, I was a guest on Sarah Mackenzie’s Read-Aloud Revival Podcast. We had a delightful time chatting about Book Detectives there. [Lawrence Goldstone, author of Deconstructing Penguins, and Adam Andrews, author of Teaching the Classics, also appeared as guests on the podcast.]

Sarah then asked me to do a video master class (over an hour of video!) on leading a Book Detectives group, and that can be found at the Read-Aloud Revival Membership Site along with a plethora of other master classes and read-aloud goodness such as author events, podcast extras, printable resources and quickstart guides, and more.

And now, for the next 29 Days, I will be sharing literary analysis notes and plot charts for Book Detectives, a book a day.

I am not an expert at literary analysis, and there is no official answer key, but I hope my notes will encourage you all to start your own Book Detectives groups! The last day of the series will be reserved for final thoughts and a list of all the book post links.

Stick around, put on your detective hats, and let’s uncover some book mysteries together!


Kylie said...

Oh this sounds fabulous I can't wait to see what you have planned. We already have a small book club happening but I'd love to ramp it up a little :-)

Jill Foley said...

I am so excited you are doing this! You inspired me last year to go through several books with my own two girls. And this year I teamed up with a friend who also homeschools and we watched Teaching the Classics, read Deconstructing Penguins and just yesterday had our first book detectives club with our girls.

THANK YOU for sharing what you do - it's an encouragement and inspiration!

Heather said...

All your previous posts inspired me to start one!
This summer I asked a friend whose kids are my kid's best friends if she wanted to start a Book club with me. I asked her to host and I would lead it. We met last week and had our first meeting. I chose Thy Friend, Obadiah by Brinton Turkle b/c it was easy to begin a discussion on Story chart, and to introduce the ANI chart and because it's been one of my favorite books since I was young.
We had a blast, an energetic blast and we covered so much for such a short story. Before we left, my friend and I picked The Real Thief to do for October's meeting. My son and I have read and discussed this before so it's another easy book for me to prepare.
Looking forward to this series and all the books you will highlighting. I hope to blog about our experiences as well. You know, someday, when I can carve out time and brain cells. :)

Heidi said...

Thanks for the comments and kind words, Ladies! I'm excited about this series and hope it will be helpful and encouraging.

Kortney said...

This collection of posts is going to be such a resource!

Anonymous said...
so much truth and honor and pure and lovely.
thank you.

Jess said...

Today I listened to you on the Homeschool Snapshots podcast and came looking for more about the Book Detectives. How did I miss that you had already spoken about it on RAR and even have a master class there?! I really need to make some time to watch those master classes! I'm excited to dig in to this!

Heidi said...

Welcome, Jess! There's so much goodness on RAR (and elsewhere on the internet), it's easy to miss some of the podcasts and classes! I'm glad you made your way here. :)