"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education." ~ Charlotte Mason

Monday, October 15, 2012

Book Club Monday: Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World by Deb Brammer

For this Monday, I have combined Book Sharing Monday and Book Club into one post; hence the title:  Book Club Monday.   Once a month I run a book club for ages 7-12.  This is our forth Book Club and I am happy to say that the kids have been enjoying the books we have read.  They have been participating in group discussions and activities with great enthusiasm!  Our book for October was Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World.  It's the story of a young girl (11 years) who moves to China with her family to serve as Missionaries in China.  The beginning of the story finds Amy (who was named after the missionary: Amy Carmicheal), very excited to be moving to China to minister with her parents.  As the story progresses; Amy finds it difficult to make Chinese friends and becomes more discouraged with her mission.  She finds communicating hard when she doesn't know the language, the food the neighbor brings over to welcome them turns her stomach and the culture generally has her feeling like a complete stranger.  She is attending an 'American' like school in China, where she feels like she fits in but she begins to face challenges there as well.  Another girl, Jessica, befriends her but after a while it becomes clear that Jessica rules the roost at school and the girls generally do as she does, including leaving one of the girls out of every activity.  Amy desires to fit in and have friends and struggles against doing what is right: stand up for the excluded girl or maintain her friendship with Jessica so she has a "peanut butter friend in China'.  She is finding it difficult to be friends with the Chinese girls (Chop Suey friends) in her neighborhood due to the language barrier.  She comes full circle in the end, and learns some valuable lessons about doing what's right despite what she may loose and realizing that God can use her life to touch others.  This was a fantastic read!  I heard several of the children say it was the best one yet (and they said that about the others!).

For Book Club, I use a Charlotte Mason approach to encourage discussion and learning.   I find this approach invaluable as it gives children the freedom to explore and learn about the world in which they live.  If you have not heard of this approach, you can learn more about it on Ambleside On line.

We began by talking about where China was in the world, using the globe for reference.  Children love seeing where the story took place in relation to way they reside.  We also read about the culture/religions of China in an amazing book called: Window on the World.  I would highly recommend this book.  It has some fantastic information on the various cultures in the world starting from the names of cultures from A right through to Z.  There was ample time for book discussion including but not limited to what they liked best/least about the book, which character they identified with and why, what they learned about the culture of China, what they thought of all the situations Amy went through, and what it means to be a friend.  It was so exciting to see their various perspectives and perceptions!  It was also amazing to see how much they loved the book.

At the back of Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World were several games that children play in the Chinese Culture.  My children took the skipping game and demonstrated it to the children at book club.  They each had an opportunity to play the game.  They had so much fun!  My daughter has an app on her touch that taught her to count in Chinese and she used it to help the kids learn a few numbers. :)  Below are some shots of the skipping game.
Playing a version of Chinese skipping.
I visited a couple of local Chinese stores to buy some treats for the snack part of our book club.  They had some traditional Chinese rice crackers, and some fresh fruit.  We also had tea, as tea is important part of Chinese culture.  A friend of mine loaned me some beautiful Chinese tea pots and tea cups.  I made green tea and jasmine tea.  They didn't need to drink it all but I asked that they try a bit!  They were pretty good about it! lol  My friend also gave us some decorations to hang: Chinese lanterns, some lovely pictures and Chinese tinsel.  A couple of the kids wore Chinese clothes and I wore a Chinese hat and kimono my friend lent me.  At the end, I sent them home with some chop sticks and a traditional Chinese envelopes that are used to hold a chocolate coin.  (I couldn't find chocolate coins so I used another candy).  I forgot to take a picture of those envelopes but they were a beautiful red.

It was a wonderful book club today!  I appreciated all their enthusiasm.
Having tea and snack together.
More skipping!
Tea time!

1 comment:

  1. So great! I have thought about starting a book club it looks like a wonderful way to study literature like they will when they are adults, read discuss, drink coffee! HA!


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