Bookworm Camp Day 5….The Last Day!

Yesterday was the last day of my bookworm camp!  I am thrilled with how it turned out and I’ve already started planning for next year.  The campers were wonderful and we had a lot of fun!

We spent yesterday finished Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead. We read for about 40 minutes before lunch and 40 minutes after lunch and you could hear a pin drop in the room. When we weren’t reading, we took some time to learn about Seurat and practice pointillism (so hard!). We also watched a clip from Sunday in the Park with George (because I am a Broadway  geek and I love introducing kids to musical theater).

We also took some time to try some spying of our own.  We went outside and sat on the college campus, taking notes on the comings and goings of the college’s students and visitors.  It was a lot of fun!

We ended the day with an evaluation of the camp and I handed out a whole lot of ARCs and extra review copies I had received.  It was like Christmas morning when I told the campers they could take home as many books as they wanted!

Feedback on the camp was FABULOUS.  The only suggestion the campers had was to focus on four books and a read aloud next year.  They suggested that I stick with three novels and add a graphic novel.  Definitely something I am considering!

One of the campers sent me an email last night and I just want to share a few of her thoughts here.  If you are considering running a bookworm camp next year, this should help solidify your decision!

First, ‘Book It’ camp was a fantastic experience for me. I especially like the way it was taught, or rather, not taught.
You let us campers have open discussions on any and all topics, which was a pleasant surprise…our talks on the books evolved into debates regarding the ethics of GloFish being for sale in pet stores. In fact, in this camp not only did I learn about books and how they are made, but also the culture of Korea, the impending supervolcano apocalypse, whether or not it makes sense to have ‘dolphin jails’, how the first Disney movie was Snow White, and countless other things.
I really appreciated how you…spoke to us as equals- listening to our opinions on subjects like they mattered, and not acting as though we had no idea what we were talking about just because of our age.
Another great thing about the camp was ‘Liar and Spy‘… you have a talent for reading aloud!
I wanted  to express my gratitude for all you have done this week. Because of you I was able to experience the perfect camp for me, meet others who shared my interests, and even speak with an author!
 Yup, I’ll be doing this again next summer.  All of my campers promised to return next year and to bring their book-loving friends!

Bookworm Camp Day 4!

Today was all about Karen Sandler’s Tankborn. I was really looking forward to today because there is so much to talk about in Tankborn! Class structure, genetic modification, the definition of human- lots of great conversations to be had!

We started the morning with a discussion of the book itself. The kids talked about their favorite characters, their feelings about the setting, questions they had, etc. It was a productive conversation and they were really enthusiastic. The discussion naturally moved towards the controversy surrounding bioengineering and genetic modification. Exactly as I expected.  This gave us the opportunity to watch Paul Root Wolpe’s TED talk: It’s Time to Question Bio-engineering. If you haven’t seen it yet, you must take 20 minutes to listen to Wolpe.  He is a bioethicist and his talk will blow your mind! The campers were fascinated by some of the animals and modifications that he shared.

After watching Wolpe’s talk and discussing some of the animals, the kids then designed their own genetically modified animals or plants.  After drawing them and coloring them in they presented them to the class and rationalized their place in the world.

The campers were really enthusiastic about bioethics so we too some time to debate a few scenarios presented in the NIH’s Bioethics curriculum guide. Some weird stuff has been designed by scientists!  Did you know there are Glofish? Originally developed to help scientists discover pollution in waterways, they are now sold in pet stores like Petsmart and Petco.  Their genes have been injected with bioluminescence from coral so the fish are neon colored and glow under black light!  We had never heard of Glofish and they caused quite a controversy in the room.  Some of my campers wanted to buy them immediately while the others were horrified at the very thought, for moral reasons.  It was a great debate!

Before lunch, we read another 30 pages of Rebecca Stead’s Liar & Spy, which the kids are loving. We took a few minutes to watch a SciFri video presentation about the parrots in Brooklyn, which we all learned a lot from.

After lunch we decided to do our afternoon reading outside. We read for about 40 minutes and it was wonderful!

Then it was time to go back inside and continue our discussion of Tankborn.  We watched a few author interview videos from Karen Sandler’s website and then studied the maps of Loka that are available there.  I also shared the short story that Karen Sandler has made available on her website.  This led to a great conversation about the meaning of the word human and we should define it.  I told them about the Declaration of Rights of Cetaceans and we researched the intelligence of whales and dolphins.  The idea of giving dolphins and whales “person rights” was very intriguing to my campers. We spent the rest of the afternoon discussing whether or not dolphins and whales deserve to have rights and to have those rights protected.

Tomorrow is our last day!  I’m sad to see the week end but I am looking forward to finishing  Liar & Spy and spending the day talking about Seurat, acting as spies, and reading!  Plus, I have books to give away tomorrow!

Bookworm Camp Day 3

We had another book-filled day at bookworm camp!  We continued talking about Breadcrumbs this morning and had a great conversation about Hazel and Jack. It led to researching Montessori schools, forest kindergarten, school closings in Minnesota, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Anderson, and age-appropriate behavior. We talked for close to an hour! Then we watched Pixar’s “The Little Match Girl” short from a few years ago.

After that, we dove into learning about how books go from an idea in someone’s head to the printed book in the bookstore. We talked about agents and slush piles, editors and publishing houses. Then I shared Kate Messner’s Revision Gallery presentation with them.  They sat at the tables in amazement as we looked at the revision process through the eyes of real authors.  None of the campers had any idea that authors spend months revising their work. And they felt better about their own writing when they saw the grammar edits and “show don’t tell” comments on many of the drafts.  I can’t thank Kate enough for the presentation because it is always enlightening for my kids.

Once again, we read  30 pages of Liar & Spy before lunch.  I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a great read aloud for middle school students!

After lunch, we spent an hour reading our own books.  It was absolutely glorious.  When I announced that it was time to move on, they actually groaned!  It’s a dream spending time with students who love reading this much!

Finally, we watched most of Chip Kidd’s TED talk, “Designing Books is No Laughing Matter. Ok, It Is“.  (There are no words to describe my love affair with TED talks.) Chip Kidd is a well-known and respected book cover artist and his TED talk is funny and thought-provoking.  The campers really loved it and we had a great conversation about book design afterwards.  I shared this tumblr with them and we discussed redesigning book covers for new generations.  And we took a look at some of Melissa Walker’s Cover Stories to learn about the process behind some of their favorite books.  I think they learned a lot and they really enjoyed it.

Looking forward to continuing with my campers tomorrow.  This week is flying by!

 

Bookworm Camp Day 2!

Today was our second day of bookworm camp and it was fabulous!  The campers started the morning with a creative writing activity, writing a diary entry from the viewpoint of a character who just woke up in a post-apocalyptic world.  It was a lot of fun and they did a great job.  I have some very creative campers!

After that we prepared for our Skype visit with Mike Mullin, the author of Ashfall. The campers were very excited because none of them had ever experienced an up-close-and-personal chat with an author before.  Or, as one of them said, “with a celebrity!”  We brainstormed some questions, prepared the room, and performed our test call.  That’s when I realized that we didn’t have a microphone!  Thankfully, it only took a quick call to the IT department and they raced up with a boundary microphone for us to use.  The guys who helped me were wonderful and could not have been more helpful.  (Thanks, guys!).  And then, we were ready!

The interview went off without a hitch.  Mike Mullin was engaging and kept the kids laughing and asking questions.  When he first popped on the screen the kids all exclaimed, “Wow! That’s a lot of books!”.  Mike laughed and then moved the webcam around, pointing out his huge TBR pile, his research bookshelves, and his library books.  He also explained that there were many more bookshelves in other areas of the house.  The kids loved that.

Mike started by talking a bit about Ashfall and telling us how he came to write the book.  He showed us his container of volcanic ash and told us about the road trip he took to trace the journey that Alex and Darla embark upon in the book.  That really impressed the campers.  Then, he read to us from Ashen Winter, the upcoming sequel to the first book.  The campers loved hearing the first chapter before it’s really “out there” for the public.  Plus, it’s great to hear the characters voiced the way that the author imagines them.

After that, Mike took questions from the campers.  At first, they were a bit shy, but they slowly opened up.  Mike was so engaging that they couldn’t help it!  He answered questions about how he wrote the book, his outlining process, where he is with the third book in the series, how books are titled, the inspiration behind some characters in the book, and lots more.  It as enlightening and the kids really got into it.  And of course, one of my boys asked if Mike plays World of Warcraft (Alex plays in the book) and was thrilled when Mike said yes.  His street cred went way up when he got deep into conversation with my camper about where he left off in the game.  Talk about authentic!

We talked to Mike way longer than we should have and I felt bad for taking up more of his time than we should have. But Mike was extremely gracious and continued interacting with the campers for a few more minutes.  I can not recommend his book enough and if you get a chance to Skype him into your classroom or library you should do it!!

After our Skype call we did a bit more of our read aloud, Liar & Spy before lunch.  The kids are really into the book, which I knew would happen!  But we had to cut it short to make it to lunch in time.

After lunch we took about 45 minutes to read our books, which was heavenly.  :)

We ended the day talking a bit about our next book, Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs. I’m looking forward to digging into fairy tales a little more tomorrow.

As the day ended, one of my campers turned to me as she was walking out the door. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet that I got to talk to a real author today. Like, a real celebrity. It’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me.” With a smile, she glided out of the room. Let me tell you, I spent the rest of the day smiling! This camp is AWESOME!

Bookworm Camp Starts!

Today was the first day of camp!  I am thrilled to be running a “camp for bookworms” through my local community college.  Last fall I read about Thalia Kid’s Book Club Camp at Symphony Space in New York City.  I was immediately overcome with jealous because that camp sounded like my dream as a kid.  A place to read books and talk about more books?  HEAVEN!

When my local community college campus sent out an email looking for counselors and camp ideas, I decided to throw my idea out there.  A camp for bookworms that would be aimed at middle school students.  To my surprise, they loved the idea!  Then I spent a few months picking three books for the students to read before coming to camp so that we could focus on them during the week of camp.  It was very tough, but I finally chose Mike Mullins’ Ashfall, Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs, and Karen Sandler’s Tankborn. My goal was to choose awesome, well-written books that the campers most likely would not have read before.

Today was our first day of camp and it went really well!  I have a small group of students, and an even mix of boys and girls.  They are all entering 7th or 8th grade and they are avid readers.  We started out by introducing ourselves and talking about our book preferences this morning.  I have a paranormal fan, action fan, humor fan, romance, classics, and lots more.  One student is currently reading Sherlock Holmes while another is working on his own novel.  I’m very impressed!  We also had a great discussion about e-readers.  I was surprised to hear that most of the students do not use e-readers, and if they have one it was usually a gift.  Those with gifted e-readers said they use them to read classics or free stories/novels posted in the e-bookstore.  In fact, they were pretty big fans of self-published shorter works.  That’s a first for me!  But they were unanimous in declaring their love for paper books.  E-readers were more of a matter of convenience, used on vacations or while waiting around in places without reading material (usually a phone was used in that case).

We spent today talking about Mike Mullins’ Ashfall, in preparation for s Skype call with him tomorrow morning.  The kids can’t wait to chat to Mike Mullins after our talk today.  We discussed our favorite parts of the books, how we might react in the event of a supervolcano reaction, and other book recommendations for those who enjoyed Mike Mullins’ Ashfall.  After lunch, we watched a 30 minute BBC documentary about the Yellowstone supervolcano so that we all have a good grasp on the scientific possibility of an eruption in the next 50,000 years.  That will give you pause!

I also started a read aloud with my campers today.  I wanted a book that we could definitely finish this week, as I don’t want to leave them hanging once camp ends.  The choice was a no-brainer for me.  Thus, we began to share Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead today. It went over really well! We are all looking forward to reading more tomorrow.

It was a fantastic day and time flew by.  I am so looking forward to tomorrow! We will be talking to Mike Mullin, reading our books, enjoying a read aloud, watching some book trailers, writing our own post-apocalyptic scenes, and then we will dive into Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs for the second half of the day.  It’s going to be a great week!

As we were wrapping up our day, one of the campers raised her hand.  When I looked over, she quietly said, “This if off-topic, but I just want to say how glad I am that I found this camp.  I love to read and not many teachers encourage me. Most of the time they yell at me to stop reading.  So this camp reminded me that it’s ok to read.”

Well, that just about broke my heart.  She went on to tell me that her 3rd grade teacher caught her reading under her desk and marched over to her, tore the book out of her hand, proceeded to yell at her and humiliate her, and tossed the book to the front of the room.  The worst part?  The camper told me, “I wasn’t mad at her for yelling at me, because I guess I was breaking the rules. But I was so mad at her for disrespecting my book and losing my page when she threw the book. I’ve never been able to forgive her for that.”

I was speechless.  All teachers should be encouraging readers, not humiliating them for reading under their desk, looking for more time to read.  It’s one thing to guide a student back to the topic at hand.  Sometimes it just needs to be done.  But to humiliate a young reader?  To throw their book across the room?  To lose their page?  That’s so disrespectful.  Thankfully, this child was a reader and always will be.  But a more reluctant reader, maybe one who just found that perfect book, might be convinced to never pick up a book again after an experience like that.

And that’s why I am thrilled to be running my bookworm camp this summer.  There are lots of readers out there dying for a space where they can share their favorite hobby.  I am happy to provide that for them.  We have four more days of camp and they are going to be amazing!

An APB for Friendly Publishing Folks! (Please RT!)

This summer, I am running a camp for bookworms.  Inspired by Thalia’s Book Camp, run by Symphony Space in NYC, I will be spending a week at our local community college with 7th, 8th, and 9th graders who love to read.  Before camp, they will read Ashfall, Breadcrumbs, and Tankborn (I am so excited about all of these books!).  Over the course of 5 days, I am planning to do a few author Skype visits, writing activities, mini book groups, and other activities connected to the books.  I’m brainstorming as you read this.

But something else I would love to do is connect with folks in the publishing world.  We can’t go to NYC, but I’d love to have an editor, cover designer, agent, or anyone else in publishing Skype in for a few minutes and talk to the kids about their work.  All of the attendees are guaranteed to be bookworms, but I doubt they have much knowledge about the process of making books.  It would be a great experience for them!

I’m hoping to reach out to people who read the blog.  We wouldn’t take up much of your time- maybe 25-30 minutes? If you are interested in talking to the kids, it would be during the week of August 13th-17th.  Please email me  (thereadingzone@gmail.com) if you have questions or if you are interested.  Thanks so much!

 

 

*Feel free to pass this blog post around!  Thanks!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,797 other followers