The Penny Dreadful Book Club!!!

I know that some of you have been waiting for this. Here ’tis!  I hope you’ll help me circulate it to teachers and librarians.  I’m especially interested in reaching out to home-schooling groups who may not often have a chance at an in-person author visit, and to schools without budgets for such things.

Ahem. Here goes nothing!  I may live to regret this moment…

Below, you will find a list of books I love. Some of them are newish books, but most of them are old. Most of them are “classics.”   These are also books Penny loves, and so Penny and I have talked about these books, and decided that we want  to encourage kids (and grownups) to read them best uk online casino.

To that end, we hereby announce the PENNY DREADFUL BOOK CLUB.  Intended as an experiment in new technology and old books! The rules are as follows.

  1. For any group of (at least) THREE kids (or grownups, I guess) who wants to get together and read THREE books from the list below (that they have not read before) I will offer a FREE SKYPE VISIT to chat with the group about the books they’ve read.  I’ll also happily chat about other things, but at the heart of the conversation should be the books on this  list.
  2. This offer is open to anyone, any group of three readers, for the entire year of 2011.
  3. Skype visits will be scheduled at a mutually convenient time, but must be arranged at least a month in advance.
  4. I will schedule eight visits per month, no more.  First come first served.  Once the slots are filled, they’re filled.
  5. Groups should email me before they begin the process, so I can keep everything organized. When you write to me to express interest, I’ll send you all a little envelope with some bookmarks, for keeping track of your reading!
  6. Nobody needs to like the books I like.  In general, Penny and I agree that good conversations usually involve some amount of disagreement.  But I am pretty certain that everyone can find something on this list to like!
  7. A parent/teacher/guardian/librarian/grownup of some sort must be the initial point of contact for the visit.  I will make up a permission slip, so that everyone feels nice and safe.  I’m a pretty harmless person, but a permission slip will  keep things tidy.
  8. Skype visits will commence in January, 2011.  When I’m home from the road.
  9. Kids should feel free to read MORE than three books.  But three seems like a nice number to start with.
  10. Groups can be as large as they would like to be! I’m happy to meet with classrooms and organized books clubs or library groups. But I don’t want home-schooled kids or interested threesomes of readerly afterschool chums to be excluded.
  11. Participants should feel free to email me through my website, as they read, if they have questions, or want to chat/connect.  I’ll also be happy to follow up with emails after any skype session, to strengthen the sense that kids have really “gotten to know” an author.
  12. I reserve the right to add books to the list, as I read them.  I don’t want any books on the list I haven’t read myself, because I need to be able to discuss them too!

I think that’s basically it. Pretty simple, really. You find a few friends, read three books from this list of awesomeness, and I’ll skype in to chat with you and see what you thought.  Any questions? Leave them below!


Matilda, Dahl

Hello, Mrs Piggle Wiggle, McDonald

Mary Poppins, Travers

The Penderwicks , Birdsall

Betsy-Tacy, Hart Lovelace

Swallows and Amazons, Ransome

Bedknob and Broomstick, Norton

The Bad Beginning, Snicket

Pippi Longstocking, Lindgren

Olivia Kidney, Potter

Seven Day Magic, Eager

Five Children and It, Nesbit

Because of Winn Dixie, DiCamillo

The Phantom Tollbooth, Juster

Gone Away Lake, Enright

Ballet Shoes, Streatfield

The Thirteen Clocks, Thurber

Coraline, Gaiman

The Anybodies, Bode

Savvy , Law

Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, Konigsberg

The Egypt Game, Snyder

The Girl Who Could Fly, Forrester

Island of the Aunts, Ibbotson

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, Rowling

The Canning Season, Horvath

Over Sea, Under Stone, Cooper

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis

Bridge to Terabithia, Patterson

Tuck Everlasting, Babbitt

Island of the Blue Dolphins, O’Dell

A Wrinkle in Time, L’Engle

Emily of New Moon, Montgomery

Princess Academy, Hale

Dicey’s Song, Voigt

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Speare

Little Women, Alcott

14 Responses to “The Penny Dreadful Book Club!!!”

  1. Paul W. Hankins Says:

    Oh, Laurel. We are so in if you would let us be. I love the idea of my older kids going back and picking up these classic kid-lit books. I think this will be an enrichment activity for everyone involved. I will start pitching this tomorrow morning. I know I will be able to hook a couple of girls on this right away (and I am hoping to get a guy in there or two). We could hang the Skype visit as a carrot. I see this as all grades activity, 9-12, don’t you?

    Mr. Hankins

  2. laurel Says:


    I think that a 12th grade could do this in an entirely different way, because at that age they’re getting the skills to really talk critically about things. So yes, absolutely! We could even come up with some new/old pairings, or sets of books where there’s a lot to say about the contrast between titles.

  3. Debra Moffitt Says:

    What a great idea. A great blend of old and new technology!

  4. Kaethe Says:


    I think it’s an awesome idea. I’ve shared the details with my daughters’ teachers already. If they don’t grab at it I may have to form my own club with the neighbor girls.

  5. Beth Says:

    I am a teacher at Cameron Park Elementary School in Hillsborough NC. One of my parents told me about your blog. This is so exciting. I am posting the list for sign up today! If three or more students participate are the other students allowed to listen to the skype convo or do you want it to be exclusive to the readers in the club? Looking forward to this! Thank you for reaching out to the schools and community :)


  6. Lee Ann Brown Says:

    Hey Laurel!
    My daughter Miranda is interested in doing this – we will be back in NYC by then and in school
    (we are homeschooling in NC mountains now) – we want to do it either with Miranda’s 2nd grade class at the Blue School (check out their website!) or with three friends

    Here are the books we are initially interested in

    The Anybodies, Bode

    Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, Konigsberg

    The Egypt Game, Snyder

    The Girl Who Could Fly, Forrester

    Love Lee Ann

  7. Says:

    I confess- I have never heard of you before, (really, really sorry!) but tonight my husband, (an accountant,)came home from work full of excitement. “We just HAVE to get this book about this kosher pig!” he said. (Very out of character.)
    Long story short: I found your website, and although I am a book-a-holic homeschooling mum to six, my eldest 3 are aged 7, 5 and 4 and therefore we probably don’t qualify, but I really wanted to thank you for the list of great books. That’s a gift in itself!

  8. laurel Says:

    No aplogies needed! It’s a big world full of books and authors, and I’m not famous by a long shot.

    Your kids are probably too young to read the books on this list, as a book club. But if you guys read three as a family, and they want to “chat” we can absolutely do that. Or, if your oldest wants to email me, I’m always happy to interact with readerly kids.

    Thanks for leaving a comment!

  9. Amie Kaufman Says:

    What an amazing list! For those of us who don’t have kids to hand to form a club, I hope you’ll tell us how the visits go! (Birdsall, Nesbit, Norton, Cooper, DeCamillo, Lewis, Voight. It’s like you’re raiding my bookshelves!)

  10. RM1(SS) (ret) Says:

    Won’t be participating in this, but wanted to say I love the list books. I’ve read 25 of them, and reread several (Swallows and Amazons is my all-time favourite children’s book); may have to add the others to my read-this-someday list.

  11. Your Chance to Meet An Author We Love – Laurel Snyder « Random Acts of Reading Says:

    [...] Skypes — and she recently announced an awesome contest on her blog that she’s calling The Penny Dreadful Book Club!!!. I highly recommend that you check this out… and then pass it along to everyone you know who [...]

  12. Ellen Potter Says:

    Laurel, this is just such a brilliant idea! And thank you so much for including Olivia Kidney in the selection. What an honor!

  13. Kathy Porter Says:

    Dear Ms. Snyder,

    I am a 4th grade teacher in North Plainfield, NJ. I would like for you to consider a reading group of mine (7 kids) for participation in your Penny Dreadful Book Club/Skype sessions. The group would like to read The Phantom Tollbooth, The Island of the Aunts, and Savvy as their selections.

    I also will be reading Bridge to Terabithia (as a teacher read-aloud) with my entire class and would like to inquire about a Skype session with them to discuss that selection.

    We would be thrilled to have the opportunity to read some of your favorites and discuss them with you. I look forward to hearing back from you at your convenience.

    Many thanks for your consideration!
    Kathy Porter

  14. An Interview With Laurel Snyder | The Leaping Reader Says:

    [...] kids haven’t read is The Thirteen Clocks, by James Thurber.  I love it so much! I have a huge list of books I love and [...]

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