Who Was… Book Club

One of the new programs I’m running this summer is a Who Was… book club. For those of you not in the know, the Who Was series are super popular among elementary readers. They are short biographies of important historical figures (past and present) and they are expanding to significant events and locations. We get so many kids coming in looking for a specific section of the Who Was books, but we have them cataloged and shelved according to their Dewey Decimal number. I’m toying with separating them out, but in my experience, it makes it much harder for staff. And hopefully, readers will find something else in the area near Who Was Michael Jackson? For example that might interest them.

Anyway. Our first book club selection was Who Was Sojourner Truth? Day of, I remembered just how hard it is to discuss a nonfiction book. Oops. This book was also difficult, although important, because it deals with so many hot button issues, including women’s rights and racial disparity. Since I accidentally scheduled the first meeting on the last day of school, only two girls showed up. We discussed the book, and talked about how brave Sojourner Truth was, and how her name is so representative of her and her values. We then read the “Ain’t I Woman Speech” and discussed it, and the women’s convention. Then we mapped out Sojourner Truth’s travels. Overall, I regret not thinking of a better activity. Next month, Who Was Paul Revere? I’m going to plan everything a little better, and hopefully include a craft or larger activity.


2 thoughts on “Who Was… Book Club

  1. Jacqueline Stolz says:


    Why do you think your activity could have been better? And what have you learned in later months? I am very interested in your process, as I may be working on a “Who Was” book club myself. However, at my library, I believe we will be having the kids read different books under one theme, such as “artists” or “explorers”.



    • That’s a good question. I think the activity was a bit lackluster because it was more like homework than an extracurricular, fun, activity. We read Who Was Paul Revere in July and made our own lanterns after reading the famous poem. That was much more successful. I was not around for Who Was Michael Jackson, but the staff person who led that meeting played Michael Jackson Song Bingo and I hear it was a hit.

      Like with most book clubs so much of the discussion and the ambiance depends on the group. I really like your idea of having the kids read under a theme. That way they can discuss amongst themselves (hopefully) what they learned about their person and how it relates to other artists or explorers or presidents etc.


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