I went to the monthly book club meeting of the Nightlighters last night. This month we read Where Do They Go? by Julia Alvarez (Author) and Sabra Field (Illustrator). 

Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. It’s a children’s picture book. OK, you might be skeptical. A children’s picture book for an book club for adults, you say? Now why would you do that?

There were definitely some questions of this type from the book club members themselves and probably more than one started reading a different book by Julia Alvarez that is not a children’s book by mistake. (Alvarez has written several other books, including Once Upon a Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA. She a very interesting woman, you might want to also check out her website.)


But, this was not a random decision from a lazy reader who just wanted to pick something short. Actually, it was sort of an unconventional genius book club choice.

This particular story is about what happens after people die. That made for some heady book club conversation. In fact, ours certainly veered into the existential realm. It was also one of the most thoughtful and perhaps important conversations I think we’ve had at book club. I mean we tackled life and death people, that’s pretty big stuff. And that came out of a discussion of a picture book! (Take that Dante’s Inferno!)

But, any good children’s picture book could prompt interesting book club conversations, here’s why.

Benefits of reading a children’s picture book.

1. No one can say they didn’t have time read it because it takes less than 5 minutes to read. 🙂

2. It expands the conversation to beyond words to include discussions of art.

The book we read was illustrated by Sabra Field. One of the reasons the person hosting our book club chose the book was because she likes her work and had two pieces of in her house.

3. It makes you think about how pictures and words can have a synergistic relationship that enhances a story.

If this book were just words or just pictures, it would not be as powerful. Both tell a story, together they create poetry. This part was my favorite. I enjoyed the use of negative space (the white picture) to show a hole, something lost or missing. But it also represents carrying that persons essence inside.


3. It shows adults that children’s books can teach them something as well.

4. It helps adults walk in the world of children and relate to them better, even if you don’t have kids.

5. It may prompt unusual discussions or surprising personal stories from other members. (Because that is really what book club is all about, right? Trying to learn more about the human experience through the discussion of books.)

If you’re looking to shake things up in your book club, maybe try something like this! And, if you want to make your book club really memorable, be sure to also have a cute dog and some hot chocolate (perhaps spiked or not) available for your guests. That helps too!