Book clubs can provide PTA leaders and families in your community a chance to have discussions on important issues. The California State PTA Legislation Team wanted to further their understanding around the issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice so they began a monthly book club. In the new year we will be sharing with you their discussion questions and resources for each book here on the blog. We hope this will inspire you to make 2021 a year of learning, collaboration and growth in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice.
The team’s first task was to create a list of books, then they set to work reading them. Every month they come together to discuss one of these selections:
- How To Be an Anti-Racist, Ibram Kendi
- The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein
- The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
- White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo
- Ghosts in the Schoolyard, Eve Ewing
- So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
- White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, Carol Anderson
- My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menakem
- We Gon Be Alright, Jeff Chang
- A More Beautiful and Terrible History, Jeanne Theoharis
- We Want to Do More than Survive, Bettina Love
- Dying of Whiteness, Jonathan Metzl
- Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi
- Caste, Isabel Wilkerson
Some general notes about the book club:
- We meet once a month via Zoom to discuss the books.
- The book club is optional for our team, but we found that most wanted to participate.
- After two books we realized that this discussion should be larger, so we invited the entire California State PTA Board of Managers to join us.
- Our format for the hour-and-a-half* book study is:
- Welcome and short book summary: 5 minutes
- Housekeeping: 5 minutes
- Questions and thoughts: 75 minutes
- Wrap up and introduction of the next book: 5 minutes
- We have found many resources online, including videos from the authors that help to ground our discussions
- As part of our housekeeping conversation we discuss the technical aspects of holding a discussion on Zoom, but we also share how these conversations may be challenging and while we might not agree, but we need to remain respectful.
- We do not record these sessions — attendees need to be present to participate.
* Our discussions have been so good that we have gone over time, but we make sure that the bulk of the discussion is done in the time allotted.
Sample of our housekeeping language:
Raise your hand (either using the Zoom “hand” icon or your actual hand) if you want to speak and watch the chat box for the order of speakers whose hands I have seen raised. If I miss you, keep your hand up. I encourage everyone to get a chance to speak, so it is possible that if you have spoken a few times, I may skip over you to give others a chance to say something!
Before we begin the book discussion, I want to say that this topic and many of the topics that the Leg Team is reading about in our book club are hard, difficult and emotionally charged issues. We are discussing issues that we may not all feel the same way about. California State PTA has more liberal leaning members and more conservative leaning members….and that is the beauty of our organization. So many people from different perspectives and beliefs, coming together for the good of children and families. So, I want us to be cognizant of that in our conversation today. Please let’s make sure that we respect, listen and value each other’s thoughts and feelings on this topic and keep the conversation thoughtful, honest and civil. While the nation may be struggling to communicate on troubling issues, I truly believe that PTA can rise above that and we will be able to have a meaningful conversation. So let’s get started.
Stay tuned for The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein. In January we will be sharing with you our resources and discussion questions for this book.