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“Bagel and Book” Discussion Groups Foster Dialogue on Identity

Middle School parents and boys gathered in our Library Tech Commons for Bagel and Book breakfast discussions.
The discussions were split over two days, with Fourth Grade on Wednesday and Fifth and Sixth Grades on Friday. Both of the books chosen are part of the Adi’s Reading Challenge.

Fourth-grade boys and their parents gathered to discuss the graphic novel New Kid by Jerry Craft, which the older group discussed before winter break. New Kid is about Jordan, a boy of color, starting at a new school that lacks diversity. Jordan struggles to fit in at school while at the same time maintaining his identity.

Fifth- and sixth-grade boys read Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga. The book is narrated by Jude, a young girl who must leave the coastal tourist town in Syria where she grew up to move to the United States after unrest spreads to her hometown. Jude grows and learns about herself as she soaks in the new culture that surrounds her, starts at an American school, and adjusts to the new label she has been given of “Middle Eastern.” This is an identity she’s never known before, and she narrates her journey of self-discovery.

The boys and their parents shared their main take-aways with each other and discussed the role that identity plays in both stories, as they highlighted characters who feel tension between two different parts of their lives.