Parent & Daughter Book Club – Rita Williams-Garcia

Our October book selection for girls in 4th and 5th grades is…

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Next week we’ll send everyone who has signed up for Book Club a Meeting Guide with Discussion Questions.

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About the Book

It’s 1968, and Delphine travels to Oakland, California with her two sisters to visit the mother they hardly remember. The three girls hope to find beaches, movie stars, and the motherly attention they’d been missing. Instead, their mother Cecile shuts herself up writing poetry all day, and sends the girls to a day camp run by Black Panthers.

Self-sufficient and responsible, Delphine takes over the charge of her sisters, feeling resentful and confused about Cecile’s lack of concern. But, over the course of her four weeks in Oakland, she begins to understand her mother’s life and the larger political atmosphere. At a Black Panthers rally, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern recite one of their mother’s poems, joining their voices with her, instead of against her as they always had. Delphine’s time with her mother gives her a mature understanding of the world, as well as an appreciation for her own childhood. The story raises questions about learning to love those who have disappointed us the most.

One Crazy Summer, published in 2010, won the Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction. It was a National Book Award Finalist and a New York Times bestseller. The book’s sequels P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama also won the Coretta Scott King Award and were ALA Notable Children’s Books for Middle Readers.

The Girls Leadership Connection

When the three girls recite their mother’s poem at the Black Panthers rally, they experience the power of speaking in front of a crowd. They speak for justice, express themselves and their creativity, and become part of something larger than themselves. While public speaking is not the only way to be a leader, many leaders have to use this skill occasionally to inspire, teach, and motivate others.

Buy, borrow, or download a copy of this book and read it before your October book club meeting.

About the Author

Author Rita Williams-Garcia was born in 1957 in Queens, NY, where she still lives. She has also written six novels for teens and two picture books. To learn more about Rita Williams-Garcia and her books, check out her website

Learn More

Public speaking, whether to a large crowd, a classroom full of kids, or a small group of people working on a project, can be difficult for many of us. It gets easier with experience, so encourage your daughter to find opportunities to practice public speaking (and model doing the same). Talk through ways to prepare for public speaking and manage nerves. One suggestion is to start small (“Did you raise your hand in class today?”) and find safe, low-stakes ways to gain experience.

Public speaking is even more challenging for introverts. Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and the founder of Quiet Revolution, says that while speaking up is hard for introverts (like her), it’s important for them to find opportunities to share their ideas with others. For herself, she emphasizes the importance of preparedness. She also talks about changing our societal expectations for introverts, helping them embrace their strengths and meet their needs with quiet, independent time for working and thinking. If you’re new to Susan Cain’s ideas, watch her Ted Talk “The Power of Introverts.”

We can’t wait to hear what your book club thinks of this selection!

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