Currently I work in education. In my position, one of my responsibilities is to provide parents with tools and resources to help strengthen and/or enhance their parenting skills. This year, with the help of the early education social worker in my school we decided to implement a parent book club. As avid readers both she and I felt that a parent book club was a great opportunity to not only pass on the love of reading and promote family literacy but give parents a forum to creatively express themselves and engage in meaningful discussions with other parents about great books. Little did we know that the book club would do all that and so much more!
WHAT I LEARNED
The most fascinating thing about facilitating the book club was that as time went on each of the participants developed a deeper sense of self awareness. My colleague and I witnessed how parents began to pose meaningful life questions to themselves and one another. We also noticed significant changes in each of the participants and how they organically developed a greater sense of empathy, compassion and understanding of others simply by reading about the cultural traditions and lives of the characters in each of the thought provoking novels.
When we met for the last time this school year and reflected upon the last ten months, it was apparent that the book club was not only “eye opening” but therapeutic and even healing for some of the parents who shared difficult past experiences. Overall parents genuinely expressed a desire to nurture themselves and even explore creative ideas by taking up new hobbies and finding ways to contribute something meaningful to their community.
As an individual who is continually trying to open my heart, expand my own sense of awareness and find ways to be more loving and compassionate, facilitating the book club has offered many lessons about kindness and compassion and how important it is to make meaningful connections with people not merely based upon a goal, or job requirement but out of sincerely wanting to help make a difference in the lives of others. This experience has offered me insight about what being a compassionate human being means and how important it is to connect with others from a place that is genuine and rooted in one’s heart- the place where true integrity lies.