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The Black Flamingo: the virtual book club

Join a journey of self-discovery that starts on the page and ends in your heart.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Device with access to the internet
  • Pens or pencils
  • Scrap paper

The Black Flamingo

This book explores the life of a mixed-race gay teenager determined to be himself. Michael’s inevitable wobbles make his character feel real, and the reader sees the importance of the support he has from his family and friends.

Read the first few chapters

Before you begin

  • This is a great activity to run during an online session. Check out the advice on using Zoom and other popular digital platforms and the guidance on being safe online.
  • Everyone should read or listen to The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta before the book club. You can find which libraries in your area stock this book using the WorldCat search tool, or borrow the e-book or audiobook versions through Overdrive
  • You could get everyone excited about the book club by sharing the video below of author Dean Atta performing extracts from the book.
  • It’s up to the book club’s members to decide exactly how they run their club, so make sure everyone has their say. We’ve included suggestions to get you started, but feel free to adapt them so they work for you.

 

Play literary alphabet soup

  1. The first person should unmute themselves and say something about the book or how it made them feel that begins with the letter A. They could choose a character, event, place, object, or feeling. They should say the name of the person they’re passing the alphabet soup to, then mute themselves again.
  1. The next person should unmute themselves, say something about the book or how it made them feel that begins with the better B, then pass the soup on and mute themselves again. 
  2. Everyone should keep playing until everyone’s had at least one turn and has finished the alphabet. 

Share in 60 seconds

  1. Everyone should divide a piece of paper into four sections.
  2. Everyone should fill one section with writing or drawing about a character they’d like to know more about. The person leading the activity should time 60 seconds and let people know when their time is up.
  3. Everyone should fill the other sections with the place or event they could imagine most clearly, the most important part of the story, and the character or event they related to most. The person leading the activity should give everyone 60 seconds for each section.  
  4. The person leading the activity should chose one of the sections. Everyone who wants to should take it in turns to share what they wrote or drew in that section. They could read it out or hold it up to their screen. The person leading the activity should invite people to share ideas for all of the sections. 

Michael and me

  1. Everyone should choose one word that describes both Michael Angeli and themselves. 
  1. Everyone who’s happy to share their word should take it in turns to say it, write it on a piece of paper and hold it up to their camera, or type it into the chat. 

Reflection

This book is all about identity and self-discovery. Why wasn’t belonging simple for Michael? How did he find the freedom to be himself? People could think about how identities are really complex and how things like racism make it even more difficult of people to explore their identity safely. 

Everyone should make a pledge to support others as they explore their identity and think about how they’ll do it (for example, they could pledge to listen without judging). Everyone should make a second pledge to support themselves as they explore their identity (for example, they could pledge to remind themselves that questioning who you are is normal and OK). People could write their pledge down, say it out loud, or just think about it quietly.  

Head over to The Children’s Society to learn more about why personal identity is important and what you can do if you’re feeling confused about your identity. Childline also has support and information about racism and sexual and gender identity

Safety

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.