While in Toronto last month, I was guest of honour at a prestigious event, a meeting of the Durie Boyz Book Club. The 13 members, all aged six and seven, were meeting to discuss my book Lunar Lifter at their June gathering.
I'm a huge fan of book clubs and have belonged to two different ones, but this was my first experience with a children's book club organized outside of a school or library. The Durie Boyz (so named because they live on or near Durie St. in Toronto's Bloor West Village) meet in members' homes. In addition to reading, they play games and have snacks themed around their reading selection.
I arrived at the host's home just after 7 pm to find a lovely note on the backyard gate. When I entered, the boys were sitting in a group, talking about the writing process while waiting patiently for me. I read from chapter three, and when they clamored for more, I read a bit of chapter four. Then they each had a recipe card on which they wrote a question, like:
1. "Why do you make it so that at the end of all the chapters you can't wait to read what happens next?"
2. "Who's your boss?"
3. "What was your favourite book when you were a kid?" (Answer: Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway Tree)
4. "What do you do when you get stuck and you don't know what to write?"
5. And my favourite: "How many drafts did you write?" When I answered about eight, another kid piped up with: "Instead of writing so many drafts, why didn't you just use a photocopier?"
We then made rockets out of paper towel rolls, tin foil and stickers, and later they lined up to have me sign their books and to receive their Lunar Lifter treat bag: a mini Mars bar, and some Rockets and Starburst candies.
I was so inspired by these kids and their passion for books. Also by their parents, who help coordinate book club nights and recognize the importance of literacy and reading communities. Boys are typically considered "reluctant readers," a stereotype these Durie Boyz proved is unfounded.
A reporter from The Bloor West Villager newspaper dropped by and wrote this story that appeared in the July 5 issue.
So this summer, while the weather may be hot, remember that books are always 'cool' so keep your kids (and yourself) reading!