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📚 Bookelicious Middle Grade Book Club: The First State of Being by Erin Entrada Kelly


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 centered Erin Entrada Kelly's new book, The First State of Being, which is one of my favorite books of the year (so far!)!I love this book with my whole heart and was so excited when Erin agreed to join us to chat about Michael, Mr. Mosley, Ridge and all things 1999. To say that this month's book club was an absolute delight would be an understatement. Erin is as thoughtful and as easy to like as the characters she creates.

Even though I'm typically busy sharing content throughout the event, I try to keep one eye on the chat - which never disappoints! This month's conversation was filled with nostalgic memories of what life was like "way back" in the 90s. When Erin mentioned that some of her research for the book included reading TV guides published in 1999, my heart skipped a beat. I flipping loved the TV Guide as a kid - and judging from the chat, so did many (all!?) of this month's participants. From the glossy covers and multi-modal feature stories, to the hour by hour TV listings with A++ show descriptions, to the entertainment themed crossword puzzle in the back, the weekly TV Guide was, dare I say, the perfect text. I couldn't wait to see the new issue on display in the grocery store, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I spent HOURS reading it each week. The TV Guide taught me about popular culture while also helping me develop new vocabulary and a life long love of puzzles. *chef's kiss!*

After our book club meeting was over, I spent time some falling down a TV Guide related rabbit hole on the internet - and I do not regret it! Through this exploration, I discovered that there are entire Pinterest Boards dedicated to TV Guide (of course there are!) and I found this site, which allows you to search for TV Guide covers featuring specific shows or people. Here. for example, are all the covers that featured Alex P. Keaton. #IYKYK

Am I obsessed? Yes. Yes. I am.

But also, I can't help but be moved by the way books can enable this form of time travel. While cataloging books like The First State of Being, which are set in the 1990s, as historical fiction, feels like a personal attack to me, I also recognize that for the readers we serve this might as well have been when dinosaurs roamed the earth. Because Erin's book about first crushes, bullying and what it means to care for one another is set 25 years ago - during a time when we accessed music on little silver discs, telephones were plugged into the wall, no one had ever heard of the internet and EVERYONE had a copy of The TV Guide sitting atop their big, square, 3 ton TVs, - readers of all ages get to engage in a form of time travel when reading the book. For kids, who weren't around during the 90s, reading The First State of Being sparks a form of time travel fueled by the wonder of the discovery. Whereas nostalgia is the fuel for those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth. Both forms of reading time travel are magical. And aren't we lucky to share in these experiences? Thank you, Erin, for making this type of time travel possible.


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: Anxiety & Mental Health

Bin 2: Awesome Adults

Bin 3: The 1990s

Bin 4: Perfect Plot Twists

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 The First State of Being.  Bookmarks related specifically to last night's event can be downloaded (for free!) here!

As an added bonus, this month I also shared the coloring sheet that I created as a companion to The First State of Being. As an aside, I've been a bit obsessed with the reality that both reading and coloring are proven stress relievers. As a result, I've been creating both book related coloring sheets AND monthly reading challenges that include pages for readers of all ages to color. I hope you find these resources useful.

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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