The Breedlove Readers Book Club Gears Up for Fall 2022 Series

The Breedlove Readers, a teen book club run by Courtney Mauldin, assistant professor of educational leadership in the School of Education, is getting ready to welcome its fourth cohort of middle and high school Black girls who are fans of young adult fiction.

The deadline to sign up for the Fall 2022 series is Sept. 29. The club meets in the Southside Communications Center, 2331 South Salina St. in Syracuse on the following Saturdays from 1-3 pm:

Participants receive books and materials at each meeting, with the first book mailed ahead of the October 22 get-together.

“This year, we are partnering with Syracuse’s newest local bookstore—Parthenon Books—for our kickoff meeting. In doing so, we are supporting a local business which has a fantastic young adult selection that mirrors the types of novels our book club reads. We also are again working with Rochele Royster, assistant professor of art therapy, who led a collective mask art project for our last cohort of young readers. Plus, we’ve been fortunate to have two authors of the books we’ve read join us virtually and talk about their work as well,” says Mauldin.

Courtney Mauldin (left) and Marcelle Haddix (right) founded the Breedlove Readers, a teen book club for middle and high school Black girls who are fans of young adult fiction.

The book club was formed in 2020 by Mauldin and Marcelle Haddix, Syracuse University’s Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Distinguished Dean’s Professor of Literacy, Race, and Justice. At that time, both Haddix and Mauldin were wondering how Black girls between 14 and 18 years old were holding up during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The two came across the PGR Foundation, which stands for “Poised, Gifted, and Ready.” This nonprofit organization mentors girls between 6 and 18 years old, focusing 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 racial topics with the students amid the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

When coming up with a name for the club, Mauldin recalled “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. “We were thinking about the character Pecola Breedlove and how much she struggled to be in love with herself and be comfortable in her own skin,” she says. “The idea was to reclaim the Breedlove name as one by which girls love all aspects of themselves.”

Since its inception, the club has picked novels with themes that resonate with its young members, such as harassment, body shaming, what love is, and activism. This range allows for deep discussions amongst the group paired with a writing exercise and the ability to respond to the text through the creation of art, Mauldin explains.

Follow the club on social media by searching for “The Breedlove Readers.” Questions can be directed to [email protected]

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