The ISB Multicultural Book Club’s Inaugural Year
by Maria Falgoust, Librarian
The newly-formed ISB Multicultural Book Club held five gatherings throughout the past school year, offering parents across language tracks and grade levels, as well as ISB faculty and staff, opportunities to meet in a social and intellectual setting. Attendees got to know each other while discussing literature about important contemporary issues. The meetings created a space for us to come together and reminded us of the importance of lifelong learning, setting an example for our children and students by showing them that intellectual growth and community-building do not end with formal education.
The Library Committee and Diversity Committee started this school-wide initiative in the hopes of challenging our presumptions and ideas through conversation. In today’s divisive political and social climate, when it feels especially important to maintain thoughtful discussion about diversity and make space for hearing voices of people from different backgrounds, this book club has provided a meaningful structure through which we can have important and sometimes difficult conversations about race, religion, and politics.
Meetings were hosted either in the morning, over coffee and bagels in the Learning Commons, or in the evening in private homes, where attendees were treated to delicious dinners of Indian and Middle Eastern food. We kicked off the school year off with a discussion of The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, a mesmerizing fictional story, set in Pakistan, that delves into cultural identity and politics. In December, the Chopra family hosted an evening book club, during which we discussed mass incarceration and race after reading the award-winning nonfiction title The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander. Next, we read the novel, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, which brought up the painful topic of slavery in America. In April, the Hervot family hosted the subsequent book club meeting and we read Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan, a collection of absurdist short stories set in the Middle East. Our last book for the school year was The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, a gender bending memoir that brought up conversation topics such as motherhood, romantic love, identity, step-parenting, and more.
What our community is saying about the ISB Multicultural Book Club...
“The book club has opened up my world. I get a chance to read books I wouldn't normally pick up and have important discussions with parents outside of my usual ISB parent circle. It has been a great way to connect even more as a community.” -Aliya B.
“I personally love it because it gave me an opportunity to expand my ISB community beyond my son's class.” -Donyell T.
“I love ISB’s book club as it connects some of my favorite things, being social and reading. It’s a great way to meet other parents whom I may not know, and it's a place where we can share different points of view in a very non-judgemental and safe environment.” -Ashna C.
“I love that the Multicultural Book Club inspires me to read titles I might not have chosen on my own. I also enjoy getting to know other members of the ISB community and considering various cultural issues from different points of view.” -Jenny R.
As Franz Kafka said, “ A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.” The ISB Multicultural Book Club, by extension, helps us all make sense of the slush, which also strengthens our community! Our book club has been a great way for me to branch out and read books I might not otherwise pick up. I always leave our book clubs feeling energized and proud to be a part of the ISB community.
Get a head start on your ISB Multicultural Book Club reading this summer and consider joining us at one of next year’s meetings!
The Book of Emma Reyes: A Memoir by Emma Reyes
Tuesday, October 23, 2018, 8:30am-9:30am
in the ISB Learning Commons
March [Trilogy] by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell
Thursday, January 24, 2019, evening
*This book club meeting is open to ISB Middle School students!
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 8:30am-9:30am
in the ISB Learning Commons
Hunger by Roxanne Gay
May 2019, TBD