For our inaugural Daymaker Book Club, we partnered with Centerfield to engage in a virtual dialogue with the kids supported by company employees during the Back-to-School and Holiday Giving Campaigns.
We connected donors live with children from our nonprofit partners to discuss Varian Johnson’s thrilling work of historical fiction, The Parker Inheritance. This middle-grade book was selected for its exciting narrative comprised of historical fiction, critical problem-solving, suspenseful mystery, and multigenerational connections. These themes invite meaningful dialogues about our country's racial realities past and present.
We hosted two virtual book club sessions each in October and November with the Boys & Girls Club (BGC) of Santa Monica, and the Madison Square Boys & Girls Club. Kids ranged in ages 7-11 years old.Both sessions for each clubhouse included a series of scaffolded activities that also served as preparation for the public Book Club session with Centerfield. Books were provided to all participants!
For the first session, two doors were marked A and B. Kids were provided two worksheets that featured a book code and a letter-number code. The answer to the letter-number code is the author of the book cipher message which read, “America was never America to me.” The name on Door A was Althea Gibson and Door B was Langston Hughes. Before choosing the correct door, we discussed the relationship between the legacies of these two Black leaders and The Parker Inheritance.
Totally surprised, the kids were ecstatic to discover their snacks hidden behind Door B!
The energy in session two was even higher as the kids participated in a group scavenger hunt throughout their respective clubhouses. The scavenger hunt featured riddles directing them to the next clue and each clue was accompanied by a relevant Black history fact that was connected to the previous clue. For example,
Clue 1: Strong and sturdy, count on me! Just keep me locked, and you’ll see. Tall and solid, all homes have me. To get me open, you’ll need a key.
Black History Fact: the automatic elevator doors were invented by Alexander Miles in 1887.
Clue 2: Take a gulp to cool yourself down. When it comes to beverages, I wear the crown. Not quite as sweet as soda or juice, but no other drinks could exist without my use.
Again, shocked by the prizes awaiting them after solving for the final clue, the kids eagerly enjoyed another round of healthy snacks provided just for them by Daymaker.
We had provided a virtual scavenger hunt in case the live activity was not feasible. The kids at BGC Santa Monica were so engaged that they completed both scavenger hunts, and presented their answers, research, and questions about HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges & Universities), segregation, and Thurgood Marshall to Dr. Ari who was present on Zoom. Students drew connections from The Parker Inheritance to current injustices around women’s rights to choose what is best for their own bodies, segregated school systems, and religious discrimination.
Our final session involved the kids, Daymaker team members, and Centerfield employees. The team members and Centerfield employees were tasked with answering a series of trivia questions for the group. The kids would then sprint to the wall behind them where giant sheets of paper awaited their mapping of the answers onto a historical timeline. Each timeline featured dates and policies that were also explored in The Parker Inheritance.
After the timeline was complete, everyone participated in a dialogue that invited people to see their overlap in and share vulnerably about their experiences with social injustice and self-advocacy. Before concluding, each kid voiced an important part of their life story — they shared about traveling home to their home countries, growing up with siblings, and outgrowing friendships.
All three sessions were made possible by BGC site coordinators and their incredibly thoughtful and engaged kids. We are excited about the opportunity to offer our book club to more nonprofits and expand the books, activities, and discussions for everyone involved.
In fact, we are already developing and executing in-person opportunities and lesson plans to both company and nonprofit partners. The Daymaker Book Club was the beginning!
Want to learn more about The Parker Inheritance, specifically from the Daymaker perspective? VP of Products and Storytelling, Ariana Brazier (Dr. Ari), had the special honor of interviewing author, Varian Johnson. Their discussion highlighted themes of racial identity, processing grief, and child agency. Click the link for the full interview.