The discussion of Dog Man by Dav Pilkey was fun. The boys spent more time than usual pointing out the merits of the graphic novel. They were polite to each other, and when they disagreed with someone they would say, “I disagree with you because..” I thought, “wow what a new civilized group”. Well when 12 boys get together after school with food and beverages the civility doesn’t last long. All it takes is one, third grade, boy to change the tune of the meeting. As the last boy finished the symphony of armpit farts began. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the boys tried to play a song with their armpits. I knew if I didn’t intervene it was down hill, and no way to get back. “Hey what did you guys read over break?” I asked. Luckily for everyone involved they quickly moved on to answering the questions.
A little background about this Guys Read Book Club: I currently teach at a Title 1 school with a magnificent view of downtown Denver. We can walk to the a few museums and Denver Public Library’s main branch. We are, also, a school in which 60% of our students have been either homeless, or in some type of foster care. It is a tough school. Our achievement on the state’s test shows that we lag behind students from middle class schools. There are about 14 boys this year that come to the monthly meeting. Of the 14, 11 come from homes where English is not the primary language, and at least one parent is a new immigrant. Four of the boys read significantly below grade level. All 14 boys are your typical goofy boys.
After 10 years of doing a book club it is exciting and rewarding to see a group of boys come together and participate in a book club. It is just like any “fun” book club. We eat, drink, laugh, talk a little bit about the book, talk, laugh, eat… I am very fortunate that I get a grant to buy the books. Each month the boys get to keep their books. For some families these are some of the only books that are in the house.
I have worked in Title 1 urban schools and in most of them there is a belief that “these kids won’t do that” or “these kids can’t do that”. I know that if we don’t provide opportunities for kids in Title 1 schools we will never break the cycle. Is it challenging? YES. Is it worth it? Look at the picture. The saying goes “A picture tells a thousand words.” In the case of these guys the picture tells a million words!