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📚 Bookelicious Middle Grade Book Club: Louder Than Hunger

Updated: Apr 4


Y'all, it's no secret that I love the Bookelicious Middle Grade Book Club. If you've never participated, these monthly events feature a new title written for middle grade readers and focus on helping educators create meaningful connections between these books and the readers they serve. Structured, in part, as a "build your own book club" workshop, participants leave with book lists and resources to use back at school, but the best part is that the authors and illustrators of the books we read join us in conversation!

Oh, and did I mention these events are free??


This month's book club was extra special because my dear friend, and NYT best selling author, John Schu, joined us to chat about his incredible middle grade novel in verse, Louder Than Hunger. I created this video, in preparation for this month's Book Club event, sharing several things that I love about John's beautiful and important book. That list included all of the following:

  • I love Jake. I love Jake so much, that the first copy of Louder Than Hunger I received is full of notes that I wrote to Jake. I love Jake so much that I felt compelled to write Jake notes of encouragement  and support as he struggled not to lose himself completely to The Voice in his head who tells him that he’s not worthy of love or of taking up space in the world.

  • I love Jake’s relationship to his grandmother, who is both a stabilizing force and a fountain of joy for Jake in what can feel like a dark and lonely world. From her red car to the way she and Jake spent the weekends watching The Golden Girls together, I found myself wishing I could hang out with Jake’s grandma, too. 

  • I love that Louder Than Hunger is a novel in verse. This accessible format not only highlights John’s lyrical writing, but it also gives readers plenty of white space on the page to rest their eyes as they absorb Jake’s story - which can be heavy in spots. I think readers will really respond to the way each poem connects their hearts to Jake’s. 

  • I love the way Louder Than Hunger ends with an author’s note from John Schu that addresses reader’s directly and encourages them to take care of their own hearts while John shares a bit about how his own story overlaps with Jake's.

Book Club participants describe Louder Than Hunger.

I love this book so much, y'all and it's clear that everyone who participated in this month's Bookelicious Middle Grade Book Club, did too! As I said to John when we chatted after this month's event, even though Louder Than Hunger addresses some dark and heavy topics, ultimately, I think Jake’s story is hopeful and joyful. Jake carries an awful lot, but his heart is also full of love and wonder. I wanted this month's bookclub to feel both of those things: hopeful and joyful. Thanks to John (and everyone who attended!) I think we pulled that off!


Inspired by Breathing New Life Into Book Clubs by Sonja Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen, each month we share potential "book club bins." These micro-collections all feature that month's book club pick as an anchor text, along with several other titles that are connected by theme, genre, format or some other element that would be easy for kids to be in conversation about. The purpose of these book lists is to provide kids with voice and choice when selecting texts for book club (or literature circle) reading. Note: these suggestions are meant to serve as spring boards for educators to think about their own collections and what books might make a great book club micro-collection! It's my hope that you'll also learn about some new titles to support this work AND I'm always so grateful to those who attend our events who suggest even more great books during our book club meetings!

Here are this month's book club bins and themes:

Bin 1: Disordered Thinking & Mental Health

Bin 2: Groovy Grandparents

Bin 3: The 1990s

Bin 4: Novels In Verse

Please enjoy a special discount of 20% off the titles mentioned above (or others of your choice) by visiting Bookelicious and using the code JENNIFERLAGARDE. Note: I do not make any money when you purchase books from Bookelicious, but I am delighted that you get to save some! HOWEVER, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that buying books from Bookelicious is the way we keep these events free while also supporting the authors and illustrators who join us each month, so... I hope you'll think of your book purchases from Bookelicous as supporting a good cause!

Each month, I also create an activity, related to that month's book club selection, for participants to download (for free) and use with their students. This month, that activity focused on scratch-off bookmarks as an asynchronous form of reader's advisory. I wrote about the process of creating these bookmarks here - including a link to the stickers I used. In addition to a blank template that educators can use to create their own, I also created a scratch-off bookmark for ALL 24 titles featured in the book bins (above) including Louder Than Hunger. Bookmarks related specifically to last night's event can be downloaded (for free!) here!

As an added bonus, this month I also shared a couple more resources including the coloring sheet that I created as a companion to Louder Than Hunger and a link to the very first episode of The Reader's Heart, because John Schu was my guest! I loved our conversation so much and I'm delighted that his story, Jake's story, is now in the world for readers to hold in their hearts.

Finally, here are my slides from this month's event.


As much as I have shared here, really this is just the tip of the reading joy iceberg! The real value of these events comes from participating, with the next best thing being watching the recording later. However, only those who register in advance get access to the recording, so head on over to right now and reserve your spot for one of their upcoming events. While I'm (obviously!) partial to the Middle Grade Bookclub, there are lots of opportunities to join this joyful reading community. I hope to see y'all there!

In the meantime, checkout our next few book club selections below. Reserve your spot today!


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