This past year, with my student teacher, we hosted our very first Zervas 5th Grade Book Club in the library. We read books in different genres, recommended books to each other, and finally, we all read the same book together. The book we read as a group was The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Thanks to our generous PTO, I was able to purchase the books so each student could have a hardcover to keep. (Isn't that #bookstack amazing?!)
If this wasn't exciting enough, through the wonder that is Twitter, I was able to connect with the author, and she graciously offered to Skype with us after we finished the book. I am not exaggerating when I say there was excited screaming and jumping up and down over this news. The day of our Ivan book club meeting, I had 25 giddy 5th grade boys and girls, all eager to talk about The One and Only Ivan with author Katherine Applegate. She wowed them with her view and her bookshelves (and her dogs!) but really won them over with her thoughtful answers to each and EVERY question that they had. Never has 30 minutes gone by so quickly!
I will never forget that day, and the joy in my young reader's eyes as they asked question after question about Ivan the gorilla. They LOVED him, and the book (even though it was sad, they qualified). Our book clubbers even took the time to write notes of thanks to Katherine Applegate - for her time with us AND her heartwarming story.
Well, I'm now even more sad about Ivan and his story, as the 50-year-old gorilla that The One And Only Ivan was based on passed away this week. What tugs at my heart even more is that I won't be able to gather that particular group of students to share a moment of his passing together - as they are all starting middle school next week. I'm still trying to figure out how to pass the news along - I feel like we all shared something special by reading this book together.
Thank you Katherine Applegate for sharing Ivan's story with us, and for taking the time to make an AMAZING memory for all of us (and for posing in our picture, too!)
Check out some student reviews at our library blog:
And head over to Mr. Schu's blog to read all about how he got to meet Ivan this summer:
Can't wait to book talk this title next week!