President Lincoln loved to read. Reading was his way out of a small cabin on a rural farm—through reading, he learned about life, citizenship, the importance of character and honesty, and his place in the larger world around him. It is from Lincoln’s beliefs that our reading club takes inspiration.
We invite you to join us as we discuss books about the world we share. Our hope is to provide relevant books that allow you to engage with our staff and your peers around topics that are important to you. Our promise is a safe space where you can think, discuss your ideas, challenge assumptions, and (hopefully) grow a little based on what we read.
Each session, we’ll select three different books for each of the age groups listed below. We strongly recommend that you participate in your recommended age group as we select the books for each group intentionally.
Grades 3-7 (Ages 11-13)
New book list coming soon!
Grades 8-12 (Ages 13-18)
New book list coming soon!
A Note to Parents
All our books are vetted using industry-recognized sources, including Common Sense Media and the School Library Journal. When these are unavailable, staff complete due diligence research, often referencing the writings of school librarians and teachers. Further, staff who lead these programs either have teaching experience or have been trained to facilitate youth reading programs and discussions.
As a museum, we believe it is important to tackle both history and our lived experience, warts and all. We also believe, as educators, that children who engage others around challenging topics, learning to express their opinions respectfully, while hearing and considering the opinions of others, mature to be engaged citizens in a participatory democracy.
Given our desire to present the world as it is, you may notice that some of our books come with a “Parental Advisory.” For these books, please review the attached advisory and make sure you are comfortable with your child reading the book and participating in a dynamic conversation relating to it in a group setting, where things can be, even with the best of intentions and facilitation, somewhat unpredictable. If you are not comfortable with this, please do not register your child for that event or, depending on their age, consider enrolling them in the other group that month.
Preparing for Reading Club
To prepare for each session of Reading Club, we ask that you:
- Read the book.
- While you read, think about how the book makes you feel, how it may challenge your beliefs, and what you still want to know.
- Jot down a few questions you want to discuss when we meet.
If life got busy and you didn’t finish the book but were able to read most of it, you’re still welcome to participate, but [SPOILER ALERT]—you can’t be upset when (it’s never if, it’s when) we talk about the ending...because we will.
If you can’t think of any questions to ask, that’s okay, just make note of the things you think are important in the book or the topics you really want to spend some time talking about.
Our Expectations During Reading Club
This isn’t a class. We won’t ask you to sit quietly and listen, nor do we have a handbook of rules to follow. But we do have a few expectations while you’re in our space (whether face-to-face or virtual):
- Actively participate in the conversation.
- Respect the feelings and thoughts of all participants.
- It’s okay to disagree and have a different opinion. As a matter of fact, we expect it! When you disagree, we ask that you discuss it constructively, with an open mind. Bullying, abusive language, or arguing will not be tolerated.
- Try to build on each other’s thoughts and use the book to emphasize your points.
- Ask questions! Your questions can tackle points of confusion, things that bothered you, topics you want to discuss, ideas you want to know more about, or just a quote, section, or chapter that stuck with you.
- Don’t leave upset or frustrated. If a topic came up that you didn’t feel comfortable raising to the group, but want to discuss more before you go, stick around and we'll talk.
If you have any questions or concerns about Reading Club, or just want to provide feedback, we’re always interested in hearing from our community. Please email the Education Department to share your thoughts.