The Breedlove Readers, a teenage book club run by Courtney Mauldin, assistant professor of educational leadership at the School of Education, is preparing to welcome its fourth cohort of middle and high school black girls who are fans of novels for are young adults.
Registration deadline for the fall series 2022 is September 29th. The club meets at the Southside Communications Center, 2331 South Salina St. in Syracuse from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the following Saturdays:
Attendees will receive books and materials at each meeting, with the first book being mailed ahead of the October 22 meeting.
“This year we’re partnering with Parthenon Books, Syracuse’s newest local bookstore, for our kickoff meeting. It’s our way of supporting a local business that has a fantastic selection for young adults that reflects the types of novels our book club reads. We’re also collaborating again with Rochele Royster, Assistant Professor of Art Therapy, who led a collective mask art project for our final cohort of young readers. We were also lucky that two authors of the books we read came to us virtually and also talked about their work,” says Mauldin.
The book club was founded in 2020 by Mauldin and Marcelle Haddix, Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives at Syracuse University and Distinguished Dean’s Professor of Literacy, Race, and Justice. At the time, both Haddix and Mauldin were wondering how black girls aged 14 to 18 would fare during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The two came across the PGR Foundation, which stands for “Poised, Gifted, and Ready”. This non-profit organization serves girls between the ages of 6 and 18 and focuses on community service and socializing through ‘sister bonding’ events.
Mauldin and Haddix wanted to do something similar in their community, so they combined their love of books with PGR’s mentorship model to create The Breedlove Readers. Additionally, they wanted to explore current racist issues with the students amid the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
When Mauldin came up with a name for the club, he thought of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”. “We thought about the character Pecola Breedlove and how she struggled to be in love with herself and comfortable in her own skin,” she says. “The idea was to reclaim the name Breedlove as a name that girls use to love all aspects of themselves.”
Since its inception, the club has selected novels with themes that resonate with its young members, such as molestation, body shaming, love and activism. This range allows for intense group discussion, coupled with writing practice and the ability to respond to the text through the creation of art, explains Mauldin.
Follow the club on social media by searching “The Breedlove Readers”. Questions can be directed to [email protected]