Sophia stands in front of me, panic-stricken. “I need Sisters and it’s not in the bin!” She is holding Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel Drama in both hands. Sisters is another book by the same author.
“Okay, hold on, don’t worry, maybe it’s in the return bin,” I suggest. When the book is not in the bin, I say, “Boy, you guys really love her books. Maybe we should start a fan club.”
“Can we really do that?” Sophia asks.
“Sure, why not?” I reply, wondering what exactly I am getting myself into.
I tell the group of interested students to draft a few requirements for being part of the fan club and brainstorm ideas of things we can do when we meet. Here is what they decided.
Requirements to be in the club:
Members must have read at least one Raina Telgemeier book.
Members must be a fan of Raina Telgemeier.
Things to do:
Talk about the books.
Watch videos of Raina T drawing or talking about her books.
Practice drawing her characters.
Write a letter or send a message to Raina.
And just like that, our lunchtime author fan club was born.
This group of girls and boys agreed to eat lunch together one day a week for the next three weeks to celebrate this author who wrote books they loved.
It was very simple and required almost no planning on my part.
We used this lunch period to talk about what they loved about the books. I had questions such as these ready:
Which character is most like you?
Why do you think you like the books so much?
Which book is your favorite?
But it turned out that I did not need to ask any questions. The conversation was animated and energetic as the kids just talked about what they wanted to. The time flew by quickly, and we agreed to meet on the same day the following week.
I found some video clips of Raina Telgemeier talking about her books and one of her drawing some characters. We used whiteboards to try drawing Raina and Callie from the books.
We watched book trailers for all of her books and tweeted out this picture. When I showed the students that Raina “liked” it, they went crazy!
After the fan club meetings were over, many children said they had enjoyed them so much that they wanted to start up again with different authors. So we held fan club meetings for Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet series), Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid series), and Lincoln Peirce (Big Nate series). I was constantly asked, “Are we having fan club today?” For some students, it became one of their favorite activities of the year. Some even wrote about the fan clubs when writing letters to next year’s fourth graders.
These meetings could be more elaborate by adding different activities and extending the number of days, but I chose to keep it simple. Lunchtime fan clubs are one example of a small way to celebrate reading and books that we might not have time for during the day.