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More Than a Shelf of Books

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I am not one of those moms who can’t get rid of books. I am a purger. And I have no problem purging books.

The way I see it, that is what libraries are for. Libraries house my books.

But even I have my soft spots and my memories, so I must admit that there is a section of our hallway bookcase that is more than just a shelf of books.

It is a collection of memories that will always be exempt from purging.

{The thoughts below contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure for more information.}

Occasionally, as I pass through the hallway, the book titles in the top left corner of the bookshelf catch my eye: The Outsiders. Little Women. Esperanza Rising. The Green Ember.

This section is my favorite corner of our cheap, overfilled bookshelf in the hallway, and it isn’t because these are my favorite books.

They aren’t.

Instead, these books represent some of my favorite homeschooling moments and each title contains treasured memories that I will carry with me forever.

I look at the cover of The Outsiders and immediately picture a roomful of Greasers and Socs.

No. I don’t picture Ralph Macchio or Patrick Swayze in their starring roles. My memories contain a houseful of middle school girls dressed up as Greasers or a Socs while smoking candy cigarettes.

And chocolate cake. I definitely remember eating chocolate cake.

Then there is the delightful tale of Anne of Green Gables. I can still hear Anne yelling, “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you”.

More precisely, it is the voice of my friend’s daughter that I hear when she quoted her golden line as the rest of the girls at book club laughed.

Despite all of the wonderful quotes in the text, “I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.” is the golden line quote that will forever represent my memories of this book.

Who can forget the evening of our Hunger Banquet when the girls assigned to the lower class were served pieces of bread while sitting in the trash on the floor? Their frustration at the unfair financial distribution was palpable that night. (Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder)

As my eyes linger on the rest of the titles in the corner of the shelf, I let the delicious memories fill my mind.

There was that time we quoted Shakespeare from the balcony. During the death scene, one of the girls had to lay on the floor pretending to be dead for so. so. long as Romeo rambled on.

I can still picture the excitement of a group of elementary school boys as the busted Morbin Blackbird into pieces. At last. The enemy in The Green Ember was defeated.

There have been broom sweeping contests and homemade quesadillas.

And there have been eyeballs. So. Many. Eyeballs. Eyeballs on cupcakes. Eyeballs on rocks. And even eyeballs on chandeliers.

And of course, there was Effie.

Effie Trinket from the Hunger Games.

It was Effie Trinket who arrived at our first book club and changed the trajectory of our literature studies forever.

Effie, who showed up in her blond wig and heels.

Effie with her jar of tributes – slips of paper with the names of slightly nervous and somewhat quiet middle school girls. Somewhat quiet, that is, until she drew the name: Peeta Melark and the group erupted in laughter.

Someone in that crew was a prankster.

Ironically, it was my daughter. I remember the moment so well because it shed light on her incredible sense of humor and genius creativity in a whole new way.

Clearly, book club discussions were never going to be the same.

I am so grateful for that first book club. It was the moment when a dear friend and I took a chance. Together, we explored a whole new way to host a book club for kids.

We realized that with a little creativity and spark, we could create emotional bonds and memorable connections to literature that would be remembered by our children for years to come.

These memories. These moments.

They are the reasons I organize book clubs for my kids. They are the reasons I am so grateful for the many other women in my life who attempt this crazy, fun book club adventure with me.

And they are the reason that little corner of my bookshelf will never be purged. 


{This year, I joined the staff at Brave Writer in order to equip and inspire more families to celebrate learning with book clubs. I accomplish this goal by writing a book club guide for each book included in the Brave Writer literature selections this year. These guides are published through Brave Writer.

Every Arrow and Boomerang Guide published during the 2017-2018 school year contains a guide for hosting your own book club party school. Each guide is filled with ideas for themed food, activities, and decorations.

My hope is that you will use some of my ideas or put your own twist on them so that literature comes to life for your family.}


Find more ideas on my Instagram or my Pinterest account. You can also search the hashtag: #bwbookclub on Instagram.


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  1. And they have been truly amazing! We started over the summer, and have continued in the fall. My daughter and her friends are younger and she loves helping me choose the activities from the Arrow guides this year. Thank you for sharing your spark, creativity and fun.

  2. My son loved The Green Ember. We go to the library as much as we can. But, when our local library takes months to get books in because 9 times out of 10, they don’t have it, we buy it. And they aren’t books that have a long waiting list either. Your book clubs look so fun!!

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