Field Trips · Reading

Family Book Club: The Chocolate Touch

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As an adult, my book club night is one of the events I look forward to the most each month. Over the years, I’ve gotten to forge friendships with women who love books like I love books. People like to joke about book clubs being wine clubs in disguise, but for my book club, books really are at the center of it, and I value that monthly opportunity to have a shared experience as readers together.

All readers need that social component of reading, but too often that’s denied to kids. They’re urged to read a book, answer questions about it, maybe write a report about it or take a test on it, and that’s it. They’re missing the luscious experience of turning a book over with friends, seeing how others experienced the same words, how others judged the actions of a character or the quality of the world spun by the author.

Kids deserve to have a regular social component in their own reading lives. For homeschooling families, a family book club makes a lot of sense.

In family book club, we read a book together (in our case as a read-aloud) and then talk about the book over some tasty treats.

For this edition of family book club, my kids and I read The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling and drove down the road to Dunkin’ Donuts to sip on hot beverages and inhale some sweets.

The Chocolate Touch parallels the story of King Midas and his golden touch, so at this particular book club, I wanted to do some comparative literary analysis between the two stories. I sketched out the chart below – not super neat and tidy, but it did the trick.

We had read the story of King Midas from Usborne’s 100 Illustrated Stories, and since it’s a short telling of the story, we did a quick re-reading before we left the house for our book club.

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Our Compare/Contrast Points: Main Character, Supernatural Element, Lesson/Moral of the Story, Themes

I like to use visual organizers when I can for book discussion, both because it helps to add another pathway to learning by adding a writing component and also because it helps to drive the discussion.

In our case, it was best for me to act as a scribe for the discussion, but for older, more proficient writers, I recommend that all parties take notes. (Who is doing the work? That’s who is doing the learning.)

All in all, our entire discussion probably lasted fifteen minutes, which is a fair expectation for younger kids. Discussion with tweens or teens could last much longer. It also had a couple of interesting departures from my planned talking points. For example, there’s a note at the bottom of our chart from one of the kids making a thematic connection to another book we’ve read. I was proud of her for thinking of that!

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How can you hold your own family book club?

  1. Read a book together, preferably aloud (yes, even teens).
  2. Decide on a way to make your book club meeting a little special, either with treats and/or location.
  3. Devote some thought to what you’d like to discuss beforehand, and create either a visual organizer or list of questions. Make a copy for each of your big kids with the expectation that they will take notes. (Those notes could prove very helpful for any subsequent writing projects.)
  4. Work through your discussion guide at book club. If discussion veers away from the guide you created, that’s okay. Great, even! You can always circle back to it.
  5. Enjoy the magic of a shared experience as readers. It really is a great feeling.

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