Keeping it REAL (Respectable, Exceptional, Accountable, Limitless) with Tween girls!

I sponsor a girl’s club at my school, Keeping It REAL (Respectable, Exceptional, Accountable, Limitless).  The club covers topics like peer pressure, body image, role models, self-defense, and nutrition.  In past years, our club has met in person with speakers, yoga, and self-defense instruction. There has always been lots of social interaction.  Of course, with COVID, we had to make it virtual.  We had to get creative. 

One challenge we faced was to make our club meetings meaningful. Just like teachers and librarians face every day with virtual lessons in the virtual world, we encountered these same challenges for our club.  As I was thinking through options, the stack of Maryland Black-Eyed Susan nominees was on a cart in front of me, including Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee.  With the students' input, we agreed that we would do a book study using Maybe He Just Likes You for our 2021 girls club.

Maybe He Just Likes You addresses what sexual harassment may look like at the middle school level.  Barbara Dee has taken a little-discussed topic for this age group and made it relatable and believable.  By addressing this topic through fiction, we hoped to encourage discussion and share the book's characters and their roles, challenges, and triumphs.  

Our club kicked off in January with 20 girls and three sponsors: myself, an ELA teacher from my school, and a former student parent.  The sponsors used discussion questions and breakout groups to create a lot of sharing around this delicate topic.  Because the discussion was around characters and not us, it made a safe space to venture into situations we otherwise might not have discussed.

I am so grateful to Barbara Dee for writing this book, providing an opportunity for tween girls to learn about boundaries, self-confidence, and speaking up.  We asked the girls to pass the book on to a sister or friend so they, too, can see themselves in this story.  Maybe He Just Likes You provides a valuable, timely message.

 Anne Jones and has been has been a school librarian at Windy Hill Middle School for over 15 years.  She is a career changer, having worked for 16 years at Freddie Mac in Mclean, Virginia.  She is a School Based Technology Coordinator, the Camelot News Network (CNN) Sponsor, the Green Team Sponsor and a WHMS "Keepin' It R.E.A.L." Girls Club sponsor.  Her hobbies include cycling, travel, getting lost in a good book and being outdoors as much as possible!


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