Family Book Club: readings and gastronomy as food for the family

At the beginning of last year, the American Space Madrid launched the “Family Book Club” as part of its programming, a new activity that has been carried out since then in the Library due to its connection with reading. The project stems from the interest in promoting family reading, with food, healthy living and sustainability being its main themes. The benefits of shared reading are well known as a means to create reading habits, but it is especially important in the formation of autonomous readers so as not to lose the dynamics of reading established in early childhood. On the other hand, the work of promoting a healthy and respectful diet with the environment seemed to us a good complement, taking into account the usual imbalances in the children's diet in developed countries.

The dynamic begins with a shared reading of the non-fiction story of the month, followed by an explanation of the theme of the story. In the final part, instructions are also given on how to make a recipe related to what has been read. Participating families are encouraged to do it all together, emphasizing how to make it easier for children to intervene in the process, and parents are asked to send us photos of how the family practice has gone, with the intention of create at the end of the cycle a book of testimonials and recipes that leave a record of the experience. We already have a first copy that is part of the library's collection and its production was an encouragement and recognition for the participating children.

It has been tried that the chosen recipes have to do with the popular American cookbook: pancakes, carrot cake, apple bread pudding, honey cornbread and mac and cheese... all of them following the personal tricks of the facilitator, Nanor Demirjian. Nanor is a wonderful educator from San Francisco with experience as a teacher in both the United States and Spain and a great fan of cooking and gastronomic experimentation. At the end of the semester we have a "potluck" party where everyone brings something to eat to share...if possible, done as a family. The December meeting was a veritable feast of dishes.

The stories chosen in the first stage included classics like “Blueberrie for Sal”, explanatory books like “Beeman”, “To Market, to Market”, “Oliver's Vegetables” or funny ones like “I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato”. Others like “The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas”, “Stone Soup”, “Turkey Trouble” or “The Pumpkin Smasher” have accompanied us in the current cycle, seeking to introduce gastronomic aspects in relation to the most popular festivities. In the current cycle we have lowered the age range (between 6 and 8 years) who enjoy reading illustrated books aloud the most, and the main weight of the narration has passed to Nanor but in a participatory way.

Feedback on the first cycle launched has been positive. The participants especially highlight the originality, the enthusiasm in the organization, the recipes themselves and that there are activities like this to share experiences between children and adults.

If the proposal is tasty and appetizing for you, we will wait for you one Wednesday of each month in the afternoon in the library of the International Institute.

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