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Stanford CBN Book Club (Workshop 3 of the Winter Workshops)

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The last workshop of the winter workshop season finished in hugs (handshakes went out long ago) and then hugs again as a dedicated group of CBN participants decided that they want a regular book club ‘with badges’.

There are always surprising things that children do or say – or need. We have been consistently surprised at how much children enjoy writing their own stories – usually in English. The plan is that they write as much as they want to and then read a book of their choice from the ever changing box of books until we gather to talk about the stories. We suggest topics and they come up with their own as well.

But they write and write and write … Yesterday we had a discussion with them about languages, one that focused on how clever the Stanford children are to have so many at their fingertips. English is only one of four languages, and not the mother tongue of any of the children we work with. Yet they are often very articulate in both written and spoken English.

Not always. There are always children who struggle to communicate in English but, and this is an important but, they come anyway. Several times in our four-year history we have found children at workshops who can’t read at all – but they come. There is a universal and deep-driving need for story. (They also come, of course, because they want to be part of the fun the others are having.)

The highlight of yesterday was the recital (he can’t really read or write) of a clearly exciting (he doesn’t speak much English) self-authored tale called ‘Song of the hyena’ (with appropriate growling, birdsong and bone-crunching noises.) It went on for some time – and it was just wonderful to listen to. Here is a child we will follow-up on and see what extra help we can get for him. And – reading or not – he will be welcome addition to the brand new Stanford CBN Book Club (with badges).