Penny's Passion: Tackling A Sensitive Topic at Book Club

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Tackling A Sensitive Topic at Book Club

Welcome to Thinking Out Loud Thursday!  Last week, I shared some of my thoughts and mentioned I wanted to read the book White Fragility:  Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. A group of friends mentioned they were wanting to read it too so we decided to form a book club to discuss it chapter by chapter. 

Book clubs are a passion of mine and I am currently in a couple.  We intentionally stay away from books that could be considered sensitive or controversial.  It's my bet that most book clubs feel this way.  Topics such as race, sexual preference, raising children, religion can be a minefield to navigate without stepping on other's toes.  But there can be real value in hearing and understanding others' views on topics such as these.

Thank goodness my friend Linda gave us some ground rules that will help us in our discussions.  Linda is a retired teacher and instructional coach who now works as a consultant.   Her website can be found HERE.  While using Linda's framework, I'm looking forward to hearing and being heard as we navigate through this book.  I'd like to share what she has put together for us in case your book club would like to take on these types of books ~

Before the first meeting, here are a few things to think about:
What will you need from the group in order to feel safe and comfortable enough to share honest feelings and reactions to the content?
Do you have any known emotional triggers connected to this topic? If so, is this information something you want to share with the group, or will you just be aware and plan for how to handle the situation if you become upset during a conversation?
What discussion protocols are most important for you? What annoys you? What helps you?
Think about these, and as we start our first discussion, we will spend the first 10 min or so creating our group norms. Don't worry; you won't have to say any of your answers out loud unless you choose to!

As you read the first chapter, I invite you to think about these questions:
What confirmed something I knew/have heard before?
What surprised me?
What challenged my thinking?
For our first discussion, after the group norms are in place, we will do three laps of focused conversation, one for each of these questions. I know this is a lot of structure, but structure provides safety and equity in a discussion, and this is a tough subject. At the end of the first discussion, we will evaluate our experience together and make a plan for the next discussion.

Our first discussion is scheduled for later this month.  Basing our conversations on these guidelines, I believe we'll be able to have deep and meaningful conversations!

Have you tackled a tough conversation in a book club before?  What are some strategies you've found to be helpful?

That's what is on my mind today.  Now it's your turn.  What are you thinking out loud about today?  Link up and share!

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  1. I did a book club last summer with three other friends, and it was stunning in its ability to dredge up fantastic conversations that enlightened us all. All the best to you as you embark!

  2. It is a great book. I own it.

    Just listen, have an open mind and don't form any views until people are done talking.

  3. My niece and I joined a Banned Book Club last year and discussions were often uncomfortable. They were also so valuable. It's hard to step out of the comfort zone but you can't really do much growing in there. You just have to be will listen and to give people the space to be comfortable.