Around the UFT

UFT Queens Parent Book Clubs’ year-end event

Library discussions

Jonathan Fickies The UFT Queens borough office is packed with parents from across the borough.
Jonathan Fickies PS 244 parents Preethy M. Pai (left) and Simone Martin make their presentation.

How can you travel the world without a passport? One way is to delve into books. Parents and guardians who join one of the UFT’s school-based parent book clubs have gotten to do just that for more than 10 years. At the UFT Queens borough office on June 5, parents from across the borough came together to celebrate the culmination of another successful year. UFT facilitators moderate the school-based clubs, which meet once or twice a month for discussion at more than a dozen schools throughout the borough. The goal is to support parents’ engagement in their children’s school by giving them an opportunity to connect with one another over literary discussions. “We are a diverse, multicultural community, and parents don’t always feel comfortable coming into the school. But books are a safe way to do that,” said Debbie Hochrad, the parent coordinator at MS 172 in Floral Park. “One of the most amazing things about our book club is that it’s brought parents into the school who have never been.” Carol Cannova, a parent participant from MS 172, said the book club allows her to “plan some time for me.” She added, “It’s wonderful listening to the shares of other members, which ultimately turns into worthwhile conversation.” At the celebration, members of each club gave a short presentation on the books they had read, including Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s “The Language of Flowers,” Sue Klebold’s “A Mother’s Reckoning” and Sue Miller’s “The Arsonist.” They also reflected on their personal experiences. “We read some books we didn’t like, but we had wonderful discussions about them,” noted Allyson Conte, the PTA president at PS 58 in Maspeth. “We learned things about each other we’d never know otherwise, and we’ve become great friends.” 

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