My fantastic work study student worked together with one of our book club alumni (the mom of the kids who advocated for The Princess in Black) to create a reader's theater script of the latest book for us to perform. My amazing colleague, Dr. Shira Frost Roth bought us all the fixings to get our Princess in Black cosplay on, as well as goat masks for the Goat Avenger and his crew. We gathered our royal foodstuffs, as is our tradition, and invited our community to join us.
I began the book club by talking about why Shannon Hale and Dean Hale wrote The Princess in Black and the importance of challenging gendered reading. Our group was eager to begin the performance and happy to be given the roles we assigned. I had worried that some of the kids would be upset if they weren't The Princess in Black and planned for this conversation, but everyone demonstrated teamwork and flexibility, just happy to be part of the storytelling. (I still smile when I think about one of the kids who wanted to be in each scene dressed as The Princess in Black but didn't want to act out the role. You do you, my friend.) Adults were able to be silly and free, modeled by the kids. The kids were able to show off their creativity and dramatic flair, even ad-libbing at some points. We made sure to add audience participation into our script, so everyone could be fully engaged.
We were all able to appreciate the delightful language and characters, brought to life in this dramatic way. Sharing The Princess in Black through a reader's theater performance appealed to all ages, from the parents and college students to the youngest children. It also showed the kids that their input is essential to our community, that their interests and voices are heard. Putting children at the center of our final book club of the school year helped us recognize the value and importance of our reading community. Being readers ourselves impacts children's lives forever, which is a kind of superpower.
|What happens after book club|
During NerdCamp Michigan, I had the chance to tell Shannon and Dean Hale about our incredible book club experience and how our reading community has united by our love of The Princess in Black. The conversation is mostly a blur from fangirling, but I'm so grateful for the chance to share our story with them.
One of our book club participants told me that her son dressed up as The Princess in Black for Purim, which rocked my world. Take that, gendered reading, conformity, and patriarchy.
Twinkle, twinkle little smash, indeed.
The Princess in Black Resources
Princess in Black Reader's Theater Script
Reader's Theater Scenery Presentation
The Princess in Black TeachingBooks
A Conversation with Shannon and Dean Hale
The Princess in Black website
Shannon and Dean Hale introduce a superhero princess in 'The Princess in Black'
Candlewick's Five Questions (Plus One) with Shannon Hale
Shannon Hale: 2016 National Book Festival
And because you're now part of the Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham fandom (welcome!), you must read Real Friends, which is a graphic memoir that makes me wish for many future true tales by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham. It gets real, which is what our readers are craving. One of my students said to me after reading it, "This is my life." Shannon talked about why she wrote it at #NerdCampMI & believe me, there wasn't a dry eye in the room. She told us she wrote Real Friends to let her daughter & other kids know there's a happy ending. By seeing the child Shannon, they know she turned out okay. Sob. I'm so excited for her NerdTalk to be shared on the NerdyBookCast in the future. Watch this space.