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An update from our thirty-second book club meeting!

On January 29th, we discussed Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis. Students attended from all over the United States and we had an engaging discussion. This was the first session that I (Maya) led, and it was a delight to get to know the readers.

Elijah of Buxton follows eleven-year-old Elijah, who lives in a settlement of people who have escaped slavery in Buxton, Canada (a real historical place.) We started out our discussion by talking about new things about history we had learned from reading the book. We discussed the Underground Railroad, and the dialect, or slang, that the characters in the book spoke in.

Next we broke into small groups to discuss our favorite moments in the book. Many people mentioned that their favorite moments were scenes of humor, such as the pranks that Elijah and his friend play on Elijah’s ma, and the pranks Ma plays in revenge. This led to a lively full-group discussion of a humorous scene in the book, when Mr. Travis, the teacher, loses his temper at Elijah’s best friend. We also talked about the way that the residents of Buxton upheld their creed of “one helping one to uplift all.” We agreed that Mr. Leroy followed the creed, and that the Preacher, who did not, was a suspicious character.

Finally, we looked at a scene in which the residents of Buxton welcome a family of refugees who have just escaped slavery in the United States. Together, we read the speech that Elijah’s Pa uses to welcome the new residents. Then the students got time to try some creative writing of their own. They could either choose to write their own version of a speech to welcome new refugees to Buxton, or they could write a scene with a funny prank. Students shared out their responses to the group. It was fun to hear the speeches and pranks that people came up with!

After a great session of book club, I am looking forward to next month’s meeting, when we will be discussing the wonderful novel Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan. See you next time!

Our Next Book (to be discussed on February 26):

Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan

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