Summer Book Club – Hate That Cat

Great discussion last night for our first Summer Book Club gathering! (Click here for the dates and titles for our future meetings.)

Alisa Myles lead our discussion and activities! Here are some of the things we did: Continue reading


Summer Book Club – The Trial by Jen Bryant

Our book clubbers met this week for our final Summer Book Club of 2016. This week we discussed The Trial by Jen Bryant. The lesson plan and activities were developed and led by Laurie Luff and Lois Saurman.



Prior to arriving students were given a Hunterdon County Democrat reporter’s notebook to use while reading The Trial. They were asked to fill out the notebook as they read in preparation for our group discussion.



As our participants gathered they investigated artifacts from the Lindbergh Trial on display at The Hunterdon Courthouse ( We also perused the book New Jersey’s Lindbergh Kidnapping and Trial by Mark W. Falzini and James Davidson.


  • Did you enjoy the book?
  • What did you enjoy about the book?
  • How did the point of view effect the book?
  • How did the poetic format effect the story? Did you enjoy the format? Did it make reading easier or harder?
  • Did Hauptmann get a fair trial?
  • Could this type of situation happen today? Has it happened?
  • Would it be currently be possible for a student to take several weeks off of school to work on a trial like Katie Leigh Flynn did? Why or why not? What did Katie Leigh learn during the trial? Would you like to have an experience like she did?
  • What is the theme of the book?
  • How did the poem about Mike’s snowball incident enhance the story line?
  • How did the poem about William (the chef) stealing chicken help us to further understand the theme of the book?
  • What did you learn from the book?


Readers formed ‘legal teams’ to defend or prosecute Hauptmann, using large posters to present their evidence.

  • Innocent:
    • Violet’s suicide was suspicious
    • Ladder could have been stolen
    • Wife had an alibi
    • Handwriting analysis was not definitive
    • Miller was paid to change his story
    • Hauptmann only spoke with his lawyer once
    • Forensics was not possible at this time in history
    • Hauptmann refused plea bargain
  • Guilty:
    • Handwriting analysis
    • Ladder evidence
    • Footprints
    • Prior record

Revelation – several readers commented that every piece of evidence could have been used by either or both sides.

Poetry Performances:

Students formed teams and selected a poem from the book to perform in front of the group. Suggestions for presenting poems in a dramatic way included:

  • Playing with volume
  • Using different voices for dialogue
  • Emphasizing important words
  • Singing/adding musicality or melody to phrases
  • Hand gestures, body movement
  • Props
  • Varying the speed of speaking
  • Reading in unison, alternating between unison and solo parts


Thank you to all of our fabulous Summer Book Club participants as well as the volunteer program leaders! We hope you will join us next summer!

Have a great school year – and KEEP READING!!

Summer Book Club: Booked by Kwame Alexander

This week Summer Book Club met to discuss Booked by Kwame Alexander.


Alisa Myles and Anne McKernan lead the book talk. For a list of the questions developed for this discussion please click here. Of course we couldn’t get to every question in one night… but this book would make a fabulous extended literature unit!

Writing Activities:

Links lead to worksheets!

  • Spine Poetry – poetry created using book titles – stack the books to form the poem:


  • Blackjack Poetry – 3 lines of 7 syllables each for a total of 21 syllables (Blackjack poetry worksheet)
  • Acrostic Poetry – use letters of a topic word as the first letter of each line (Acrostic Poetry Worksheet)
  • Blackout Poetry – (also called Found Poetry) – using newspaper articles or pages from old books, select words to create a poem and blackout the rest of the words with a maker or crayon – or simply circle the words you have ‘found’ to create the poem.


  • Exquisite Corpse Poetry – group writing project! Choose a topic. Have each participant write one sentence, then fold over the paper so the next participant cannot see what was already written. Reveal the poem after everyone has had a turn.


Nick was as skilled at words as he was at soccer.
I liked the story line.
Booked was good because it had things like footnotes and is a book of words. Two things Nick hates!
I really liked how it was written in poems and involved a cool librarian!
Libraries, books and soccer are three of my favorite things!
It is neat.
Booked got me reading and I loved it.
Book clubs read Booked.


Here are some of the fabulous poems created by our group:


Spine Poem:
Oh Look!
The Little Green Witch,
King of the Fish,
Curious George,
Creepy Carrots,
Ladybug Girl,
Little Red Riding Hood,
The Doorbell Rang,
Halloween Night.

Spine Poem:
I Want My Hat Back.
Where’s Waldo?
You will be my Friend.
What Time is It?
It’s Christmas David.
Good night Goon,
Our tree named Steve,
Fox in Socks,
Indian Summer.

Acrostic Poem – Countries:
Saudi Arabia
Really, am I doing this?

Please join us 8/17/2016 to discuss The Trial by Jen Bryant. For more information please visit The Newtown Library Company!