Tag Archives: Kari H. Sutherland

Follow up: Virtual Summer Reading Club

Summer reading

Photo by M. E. Shenefiel

Earlier this summer I blogged about an inspired idea, a virtual summer reading club.  We are nearing then end of our second book, with one more book to go in August.  This was a new venture for me, and I was initially nervous about how it was going to turn out, but it has been very rewarding!  Most of the active participant are  going into grades 4 and 5, and I have a few colleagues actively participating as well.  I’m just as excited as the students to get on Edmodo and see the latest questions and comments.  I love how the kids interact with each other and the other teachers without even knowing one another.

Today I received this message from a parent who’s child is participating in the club:

“I wanted to take a minute to let you know that I believe the summer reading program is a huge success. I always have my children read over the summer but the interactive book club has taken it to a whole new level. My son is excited to read, excited to come up with questions for the group and excited to answer questions. And not because he receives anything just because it is fun. I think it is a great way to engage the students over the summer. He is diving deeper into the meaning of the stories not just reading on the surface. He gets so excited to check Edmodo every day. I think that this is a safe and effective way to have these students peak into the world of social media. With social media being the way of the future I do think its important for students to learn about it and this gives them a chance to use it in a safe secure way.
I am so grateful for this program and hope that it is something you keep for future years.”

Classroom teachers probably get this type of email all the time, but for me it’s a huge deal. Needless to say the virtual book club will continue, possibly even throughout the school year!  For those of you who are considering offering this type of opportunity for your students I highly recommend it!

(By the way, the June book was The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari H. Sutherland. Our July book is The Secret Box by Whitaker Ringwald.  The August book, which hasn’t been revealed to the club yet, will probably be Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley.)

Inspired Idea: Virtual Summer Reading Club


In the midst of my end of the school year rituals, I received an email from a parent.  Her daughter, a voracious reader, was having surgery and would be bedridden for a lot of the summer.  This mother wanted to know if I knew of any opportunities for children’s virtual book clubs.  I told her that off hand I didn’t but I would check into it.  The idea began spinning around in my head and I realized that I could provide this opportunity.  With just enough school year left for some publicity, I launched my 2015 Virtual Summer Reading Club.  (I know… not a very original club name, but hey, I was proud of myself for just getting it off the ground!)

I created a group in Edmodo and posted a link for the club on our library website.

Here’s how our reading club works…

This summer we will read three books, one each in June, July and August.  All of the titles are nominees for the 2015-2016 Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Awards. Our virtual book club will meet on Edmodo and discussion questions and replies will be posted at least once a week. Club members could simply read what others have to say, but are encouraged to take an active part in the conversation!  (See the directions below.)  Students can earn Edmodo badges for participation.  Using Edmodo has been a bit of a learning curve for all involved, but I think that the participants are starting to catch on.

The Menagerie

The Menagerie, by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari H. Sutherland. Image from Harper Collins Children’s.

To date there are 47 members of the club (teachers and students) with new members joining every few days.  We have about 10 really active participants but (disappointingly) many members who have only logged on once.  Our first book is The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari H. Sutherland.  All of the active participants seem to really be enjoying the book and the discussion has been very impressive!

From Owen B. : “When i was reading the book before bed, i was only going to read a chapter but i read two chapters. Mrs Shenefiel was right, i can’t put it down!!!”

From Mrs. H.: “I just started the book today, so I’m late, and my first thought when I saw the book, was this wasn’t my kind of book, BUT I’m really enjoying it!”

As we move through the final chapters of the Menagerie, I’m hoping that the club members will be just as excited about the second title (which will remain a mystery until we’re ready to start!) Look for an update later in the summer.

FYI…here are the directions/reminders that I posted: 


  1. As you read, make tracks or keep notes, and notice details about the characters, setting, plot, and writing style.
  2. After you have finished reading the section please post at least one discussion question related to the character, setting, plot, or writing style. (You are welcome to post more than one question.)
  3. Finally… after you have posted your discussion question, please reply to at least one other question posted by another club member. The whole point of this club is to spark an online conversation, so post and reply as much as you wish.


  • Discussion questions are open-ended and may not have a right or wrong answer. Good discussion questions may allow for different opinions supported with evidence from the text.
  • If you choose to read ahead, please do not post spoilers (or questions that might be spoilers.) Spoilers are when you give away something about the plot that should be a surprise to the reader.
  • Be respectful in your posts. We may have different opinions about what happens in this story and that’s OKI We don’t always have to agree with everyone. We do have to respect those differences though. I reserve the right to make your membership “read-only,” if your posts or conversations becomes disrespectful.