Village School

A Book Club at Village

On behalf of the Village Community, we offer a huge congratulations to GiGi, who received Project Cornerstone’s Trailblazer Award at this year’s 2018 Project Cornerstone Volunteer Celebration in honor of the work she has done to develop this program. Thank you, GiGi, for your tireless efforts in support of our students and community!

By Gigi, Village School Parent and ABC/Project Cornerstone Lead

The Project Cornerstone ABC program has been a great success at Village. So much so that last year teachers began to wonder whether we could expand the program by supplementing alternative, more substantive books for our most avid and capable readers. After consultation with Project Cornerstone, the ABC Book club was born! 

The ABC Book Club is a set of chapter books that parallel the themes presented in the regular ABC picture books. Our 4th and 5th grade students can opt to read the chapter book and participate in a group discussion with other ‘Book Club’ students each month. 

We initially started the program with only four of each book per class, but it quickly became apparent that we would need at least twice as many! Fortunately, we were able to get additional funds from the PTA and we quickly doubled our Book Club participation for the remainder of the year. Even at eight copies of each book, not everybody who wants to participate can always be accomodated. However, oftentimes we’ve been lucky to find a spare copy of a book at the local library or in one of our Village teachers’ personal collections. 

This year, we have had nearly 24 students participate in Book Club each month! The themes and topics within each book, although reflective of the ‘regular’ ABC picture books, are much deeper and geared towards older kids. So the discussions – facilitated by three amazing parents (one in each class) – have been wonderful, deep and touching!

Feedback from both students and staff has been overwhelmingly positive, so Book Club will continue into next year and, hopefully, well beyond. Thank you to all of the parents and staff who have supported this program and to the students who have challenged themselves to read not only longer and tougher books, but to read more deeply and thoughtfully than ever before. It is truly you who have made this program a success!

What is the ABC Book Club?

The ABC Book Club is a set of chapter books that match the theme of each month’s corresponding ABC picture book. Each 4/5 class has an ABC parent that will, every month, read the traditional ABC book in the class, do activities and have a discussion, much like the rest of the classrooms at school. In addition, each 4/5 class has an ABC Book Club parent that will, every month, have a Book Club discussion using a complementary ABC Book Club chapter book and a subset of the students.

The original intent was for the Book Club discussion to occur at the same time as the ABC lesson so as not to take up additional classroom time. However, some teachers have chosen to have the Book Club and ABC lesson happen at different times so that students can participate in both. This scheduling is entirely at the discretion of the teacher.

Here is this year’s set of ABC Books that were read in the classroom every month and their corresponding ABC Chapter Book:


What do you mean by complementary?

Each ABC book and lesson plan has key goals that are intended to be the focus of that month’s discussion and asset building. One of the key factors in choosing an ABC Chapter Book was how well it conveyed the same messages as the ABC book. For example, September’s ABC book was Friends to the End and the goals of that lesson plan were:

  1. Respect
  2. Ways to be kind to each other
  3. How to make and keep friends

It’s corresponding ABC Book Club book, A Long Pitch Home, also addresses those same themes in its story.

How were the ABC books chosen?

The monthly ABC books that are read in the classroom were chosen by Project Cornerstone. The ABC Book Club books were nominated and chosen by the Village Community! Last year, ABC Book Club books were nominated and chosen for this year’s book club and, this spring, we are going through the same process again to select next year’s Book Club books.

Project Cornerstone has provided their ABC scoring rubric for us to use in ranking the ABC Book Club books that were nominated by the Village Community. If we end up with more than one option for a particular month’s book, then the 3rd/4th/5th graders will get to vote on which books they are most interested in reading. 

This year, the Village Community has nominated 28 books for consideration for next year’s Book Club. Using Project Cornerstone’s scoring rubric, these books were consolidated to a top 14 and then the 3rd/4th/5th graders were given a brief overview of each book and the opportunity to vote for their favorites. 

The 2018-19 ABC Book Club books will be:


We are in the process of purchasing eight copies of each book so we will be able to provide eight students with a copy for any Book Club month next year. 

Who can be part of the Book Club and how are students chosen?

Anyone in the 4th and 5th grade classes can choose to be part of the ABC Book Club but they may not be able to read all the books (unless they are able to find their own copy of the book). At the beginning of the year, students can opt to be part of the book club and are then asked to rank all the Book Club books in order of preference. Then the participating students are assigned to the Book Club books as close to their order of preference as possible. 

So a student may indicate they would like to participate in eight book clubs but we may only have enough books to allow each student three turns in the book club. That student would probably get three books in their top five and then would need to find their own copy of the book for the remaining months. 

Will ABC Book Club books be nominated and chosen every year?

The Project Cornerstone ABC program repeats every three years so the ABC Book Club will also repeat every three years. This means we will have one more major nomination year where a whole set of ABC Book Club books will be nominated and selected. After next year, we will have three sets of ABC books and three sets of ABC Book Club books and I would anticipate some books may be replaced here and there but the rest of the set will remain intact.

Where would you like to see the Book Club go next?

After the basic years have been established, I would love to see the Book Club expand to offer choices for all types of readers. This year, we had one graphic novel as part of the Book Club and this was very appealing to some readers so I’d love to see one graphic novel offered each year in the Book Club. I’d also love to see if we could offer audio or eBook versions of the Book Club books as well. I believe encouraging reading in whatever format is beneficial to students and, especially since this is a choice, I’d love this to be as open and appealing a choice as possible.

Diversity and social issues may evolve over the years so I would expect to see the Book Club evolve with those changes and include books that are meaningful and relevant to the students reading them.

Finally, I hope, as with the traditional ABC readings and other activities at Village, parents bring their own talents and passions to the Book Club. One month, I brought a Pakistani dessert to a Book Club meeting because it had been discussed in the book. This year, we also had an informal outing to see the movie Wonder and we had an after school viewing of the Hidden Figures movie because we had read both books in the Book Club. Those are examples of how I brought my own interests to the Book Club but I hope others will continue to bring their unique ideas as well.