Teen/Tween Book Clubs with Sabrina

Teen/Tween Book Clubs

Meet Sabrina

Dr. Sabrina Weiss is one of the teachers leading the Teen and Tween Book Clubs for the 2020/2021 academic year. Get to know a little more about Dr. Weiss’ approach and philosophy for teaching.

We are media, and media is us.  I have always loved stories as opportunities to learn, think, and explore ideas and problems within and beyond us.  So I use stories as starting points for learning, with a focus on fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction.  Many of these stories are based in actual histories, inspired by real cultures, and provoked by relevant problems and technologies. 

Feedback Approach

My approach to writing essays blends traditional training with learner-centered growth; this converges towards the goal of helping learners to cultivate their own voice and platform.  I emphasize the value of using standard formatting and organization to empower students in code-switching – using different approaches appropriate to a particular context – and magnifying the effectiveness of their voice across situations.  As a former debate coach, I value effective framing, references and argumentation and encourage students to use these in their papers.  Accessibility and forward-thinking are also important for me, so I will, after consultation with families and student, allow video or audio essays as ways to promote access for students who struggle with writing or who wish to develop skills with communications technology.  Be aware: I will evaluate such essays on presentation in addition to content using my debate background!

Types of Assignments

To support this approach, I offer four general types of essays that may be done for my book clubs: 

  • Personal reflections promote metacognition like self-awareness and self-regulation, as well as emotional intelligence, recognizing implicit biases, and problem solving in real life. 
  • Diegetic analysis supports critical thinking by giving learners a chance to think “in-world” about something or taking the perspective of a person in that world. 
  • Creative synthesis is a chance for learners who like to do creative writing to tell a story. 
  • Fiction-reality comparison is a chance for learners to do a compare-contrast exercise using what they read in the book to apply it to their world.These four types can also include expository, analytical and/or persuasive components to give another layer of opportunity. 

In terms of evaluation, I come from my experience as a professional and as a university instructor who emphasizes long-term goals like college preparation and professional development.  Therefore, I will be open about what the bigger goals and purposes are for writing while providing specific guidance for a learner based on their current level.  The more I know about a learner’s current abilities and goals (with family collaboration), then better I can identify a few goals to focus on for this project.  I also believe in the value of iterative learning – as a lifelong perfectionist and procrastinator, I am keenly aware of how important it is to learn to brainstorm, plan, and revise writing. To this end, I will emphasize process over product unless there is a specific need to add to a portfolio (such as for college admissions). 

I look forward to thinking with your learner!

Sign Up!

Ready to join us? You can sign up for any or all of these books as well as other book selections offered by Dr. Michelle Parrinello-Cason by visiting the SEA Teen and Tween Book Clubs page!

Teen/Tween Book Clubs with Michelle

Teen Book club, High School, SEA Online Classes, Teen/Tween Book Clubs with Michelle

Meet Michelle Parrinello-Cason

Dr. Michelle Parrinello-Cason is one of the teachers for the Teen and Tween Book Clubs for the 2020/2021 academic year. Get to know a little more about her approach and philosophy.

Hello! I’m Michelle, and I’m really excited to offer some books I can’t wait to read with your learners.

Some of you may already know me as the founder of Dayla Learning (a homeschooling humanities teaching resource) or from my time leading the SEA Teen Book club since September 2019.

I’m so excited about this opportunity to continue working with the SEA community. My time leading the Teen Book club discussions has taught me that the kids in this group are smart, thoughtful, and creative, and I cannot wait to dig deeper into those skills!

For these class offerings, I’ll be pulling from my expertise as a long-time English professor. I have a Ph.D. in English with about 15 years of experience teaching writing to learners of all ages: from elementary school to college level.

I’m also a homeschooling mom myself, so part of what drives my goals as a Book Club leader is helping parents like me put together homeschool learning opportunities that are fulfilling, engaging, and easy to implement.

How I Chose This Year’s Books

I’ve chosen the books that I’m leading this year with a few different goals in mind. I wanted to make sure that I highlighted stories from different communities. All of my selections are designed to help readers reflect on their place in the larger world and how their sense of self relates to empathy for others.

With that in mind, my first selections in both book clubs are about finding your own sense of identity and power.

For the tweens, we’ll be reading Matilda and The First Rule of Punk. Both of these books bring us spunky, fun protagonists who find out that their power is believing in themselves.

For the teens, we’re learning a similar lesson in a more mature way. We’ll first read Moxie, a novel that takes a look at the Riot Grrrl era and the flavor of feminism it represented. We’ll pair that with Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, a collection of essays that explore some of the more complicated parts of enacting that idea in modern times.

From there, both groups will move to looking at how identity and power operate in other circumstances.

The teens will first read Tipping Point, a nonfiction book from bestseller Malcolm Gladwell that looks at how little ideas can spark big changes when the circumstances are right. Then they’ll read two books that look specifically at what happens to people when their power is displaced and they’re fighting to get it back. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom is a nonfiction account of a teen who marched for voting rights in Selma in 1965. Brown Girl Dreaming is a memoir in verse that explores the author’s childhood as an African American in the 1960s in South Carolina and New York.

For the tweens, we’ll also be exploring how one’s sense of power can be rocked by being displaced. First, we’ll read Esperanza Rising, a novel about a young Mexican girl who goes from a privileged life of wealth and comfort to one of poverty and uncertainty. Drowned City is a graphic novel that explores the impact of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the people who lived there. How do we use our sense of self to help us adapt when everything changes?

What’s a Class Like?

Everyone is welcome to join us on the Facebook groups (Link to the Tween group here; link to the Teen group here).

All participants will get free links to supplementary resources and discussion questions as well as the opportunity to discuss the book with other families in the groups. These will be posted in the Facebook groups.

Those looking for a more robust academic experience will find one in the accompanying class offerings. My approach to these is to make them like a middle or high school literature class. I’ll be creating reading guides, vocabulary resources, and writing/project prompts. Students will also get to share insights with one another on discussion boards as well as participate in a live discussion (or view a recorded summary of the discussion if they can’t meet at the same time). It would be possible to use these classes as a literature course for the whole semester.

Feedback Add-On

For those who would like to complete the writing and/or project prompts in the classes, I also offer feedback. My feedback style is thorough but constructive, and I always aim to leave writers feeling confident about their ideas and their ability to communicate them to others.

Learners receive personalized video feedback on all rough drafts and written feedback on all final drafts.

If you’d like to learn a little more about how I give this feedback, there’s a video coming soon! (It turns out it’s hard to record a video when you’re on a stay-at-home order with a three-year-old!)

Sign Up!

Ready to join us? You can sign up for any or all of these books as well as the excellent selections offered by Dr. Sabrina Weiss by visiting the SEA Teen and Tween Book Clubs page!

Secular Homeschool Recommended Book List

Secular Homeschool Reading and Book List

Secular Homeschool Reading & Book ListOn any given day you will find multiple conversations focused on books in our online community. Rich discussions of authors and subject matter, innovative ideas for related lessons, and always a plethora of recommendations for more books. Reading back through hundreds of threads in various SEA Homeschoolers Facebook groups these 25 books have been recommended time and time again. Having read nearly every book on this list I can certainly understand why. This book list is secular homeschool approved.

Secular Homeschool Reading & Book List

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall – A funny, insightful, and colorful story about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way.

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty – Rosie may seem quiet during the day, but at night she’s a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer in this book that celebrates creativity and perseverance.

Grandmother Fish: A Child’s First Book of Evolution by Johnathan Tweet – Told in an engaging call and response text this book takes children and adults through the history of life on our planet and explains how we are all connected.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo – Somewhere between fairy tale and fable is the tale of a China rabbit named Edward, transformed by the lives he touches as he learns about love, loss and consequences.

Matilda by Roald Dahl – A brilliant, but lonely girl with special powers and neglectful parents finds courage and friendship while facing off against surprising characters from her daily life.

Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story by Lisa Westberg Peters – The roots of our family tree reach back millions of years to the beginning of life on earth. In this family album you’ll meet some of our oldest relatives–from both the land and the sea–and discover what we inherited from each of them along the many steps of our wondrous past.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate – Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this unforgettable illustrated novel told from the point-of-view of Ivan himself is a story of friendship, art, and hope.

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen – An ecological mystery made up of endangered miniature owls, Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House scheduled to be built over their burrows, and the owls’ unlikely allies–three middle school kids determined to beat the system.

Holes by Louis Sachar – Stanley Yelnats, a kid who is under a curse. Now he has been unjustly sent to a boys’ detention center. It doesn’t take long for Stanley to realize there’s more than character improvement going on at Camp Green Lake: the warden is looking for something. Stanley tries to dig up the truth in this inventive and humorous tale of crime, punishment, and redemption.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman – This epic trilogy tells the story of Lyra and Will, two ordinary children on a perilous journey through shimmering haunted otherworlds. They will meet witches and armored bears, fallen angels and soul-eating specters. And in the end, the fate of both the living and the dead will rely on them. Philip Pullman unlocks the door to a world parallel to our own, but with a mysterious slant all its own. Dæmons and winged creatures live side by side with humans, and a mysterious entity called Dust just might have the power to unite the universes–if it isn’t destroyed first.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio – August was born with a facial difference that had prevented him from going to school. Starting 5th grade he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid, but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. What follows is a powerful story of a community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan – This exciting series follows the demigod son of Poseidon and his friends on a quest that will have them meeting gods, battling monsters, and taking on the Titans from Greek mythology.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of Another Brooklyn, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. In vivid poems she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world.

The Giver by Lois Lowry – This story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini – This 4 book series follows 15 year old Eragon who believes that he is merely a poor farm boy, until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save or destroy the Empire.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding – At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate. This far from civilization they can do anything they want. Anything. But as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far removed from reality as the hope of being rescued.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it takes readers to the roots of human behavior, to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling – Imagine a school in a castle filled with moving staircases, a sport played on flying broomsticks, an evil wizard intent on domination, remarkable friends, limitless secrets and surprises, and an ordinary boy who’s the hero of a whole world he doesn’t even yet know. This is the story that comes to life in this marvelous series as each of the seven books chronicles one year in Harry’s adventures at Hogwarts.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – In Nazi Germany, 1939, the country is holding its breath. Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett – Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help: the local Nac Mac Feegle–aka the Wee Free Men–a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai – Inspired by the author’s childhood experience as a refugee, fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama. This coming-of-age novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child’s-eye view of family and immigration.

1984 by George Orwell – The year 1984 has come and gone, but Orwell’s prophetic, nightmarish vision in 1949 of the world we were becoming is timelier than ever. A startlingly original and haunting modern classic of “negative utopia” that creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing, from the first sentence to the last four words. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions -a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – The story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, he leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art. This powerful tale based on the author’s own experiences chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – A masterwork of twentieth century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. In a world where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. Their job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. When a fireman meets an eccentric young neighbor who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television, then she suddenly disappears…he begins to question everything he has ever known.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – As ferociously fresh as it was more than a half century ago, this remarkable allegory of a downtrodden society of overworked, mistreated animals, and their quest to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality is one of the most scathing satires ever published. As we witness the rise and bloody fall of the revolutionary animals, a razor-edged fairy tale that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.


More articles about secular homeschool & reading

Reading Comprehension Activities
The Importance of Reading Aloud
Building the Habit of Reading Aloud

Secular Homeschool Reading & Book List