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Fourth Graders Bond Over Books at Mount Kisco Elementary

MKES 4th grade book club

Twenty-eight fourth graders gathered in the Mount Kisco Elementary School library during their lunch period. They carried lunch boxes and lunch trays along with a copy of the book Wish by Barbara O'Connor as they found their seats and waited for homemade cookies from library media specialist Linda Cohen. The tables were covered in tablecloths and held brightly-colored floral arrangements that matched the festive atmosphere. Excitement was in the air.

This wasn’t just any old lunch. It was book club day.

“This is my absolute favorite book,” Julia said, her excitement clear in the rush of her voice. A few classmates added their agreement before the discussion started.

“They read the book on their own time,” Cohen explained before students arrived. “I read them a blurb about the book and send out an invitation. It’s their choice to sign up.”

Students are given about six weeks to read the book (which they are able to get enough of thanks to public libraries around the county) and are welcome to read it however they want. Their parents can read it aloud, they can listen to it on audiobook, they can squeeze in just one more chapter before bedtime.

“It’s super casual,” Cohen said. “The only deal is that, in order to come, I want them to be able to talk about the book.”

Cohen tells students that it is just like a grownup book club. The library looks a little fancier than usual and the cookies are there to make it feel special.

“I’m not asking comprehension questions, I’m not asking vocabulary questions. It’s about the shared experience,” Cohen said. “It’s kind of like how the kids all saw Spider-Man and they all talk about it. Now there are 28 kids who read the book Wish and they can all talk about that.”

Cohen and the fourth graders talked about major themes of the book, which included family, friendship and belonging. They discussed the main character’s faults and the parts of the book that made them laugh and cry and gasp. At the end, students unanimously agreed they enjoyed the book.

Zoey, who had read other books by Barbara O’Connor, said “It’s very interesting to me that all of the girls in her books go through struggles.”

Ayla also enjoyed that aspect of the book.

Wish is definitely my favorite book so far. I like that Charlie is a girl that sometimes gets mad but she always finds a way to fix it and express herself to the world.”

Wish is the second book the group has read this year. Their next read will be Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars.

Ayla said that she would definitely recommend the book club to other students.

“My favorite part about book club is talking about the book and expressing our feelings about it — and eating the cookies,” she said with a little giggle. “I wanted to join book club because I want to read more books and I thought it would be fun. It’s a good fit for anyone, to be honest.”

MKES book club set up