About the Book…
Our first book of the 2011-2012 season was Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. This is a young-adult companion book to the adult version, The Art of Racing in the Rain by the same author. Told from a dog’s point of view, it teaches us about following our instincts, taming the animal within us all, and trusting that the right thing will triumph if we work hard and stay committed. But when I asked the club what they learned from the book, they collectively felt that the it showed just how smart dogs really are – maybe the simplest ideas are the most universal?!?
What We Did…
I tapped into three websites for our activities:
- The Garth Stein website for discussion questions,
- The American Kennel Club Kids’ Corner for quizzes and crosswords, and
- The Enchanted Learning website for a dog-related craft.
Following the Racing in the Rain website suggestion, I served racetrack related snacks – popcorn and peanuts, chips, and pink lemonade (a healthier option than pop). We discussed the questions (racing-in-the-rain-discussion-questions) over snacks and shared our own best pet stories. Because the group was filled with grade 5 and 6 girls in the first few months of school, a lot of time was focused on “taming our inner zebra” and how we handle feeling scared, frustrated, and angry. Then we started on the fun stuff. They loved solving the word scramble (Safety Scramble) and crossword puzzles (Canine Crossword and Responsible Dog Ownership Crossword) printed from the American Kennel Club Kids Corner. Each member also designed her own dog park (a pdf no longer available on the AKC website). They came up with some very useful and fantastical ideas!
Our take away craft was a dog card made with construction paper (Racing in the Rain Dog Card Craft). The girls (and even some of their siblings that came later) had a blast taking a simple sheet of paper and folding it into a cute little doggie!
This book is a great option for a mother/daughter book club because of the two companion books. I have not read the adult version, but many of my friends read it for their book clubs and really enjoyed it. I understand that more volatile issues (such as the insinuation of sexual abuse) were removed from the young adult version. But the main themes of dealing with death, fighting for someone you love, using your fears to find your strength, and following your dreams are all still there. And who knows? Maybe you’ll end up adopting a smarter-than-average pooch in the process!