Club of the Month – Reloading the Canon Club at MES 

Posted on 13th Dec 2021 in The Mary Erskine School

Reloading the Canon Club is a book club, at The Mary Erskine School, that focuses on reading off-canon and off-syllabus texts, that prioritise diversity and inclusion. The club is run by Ms Saldanha and Mrs Park and we caught up with Ms Saldanha to find out more: 

  1. What do you get up to in Reloading the Canon Club? 

We read books from a range of authors that use their writing to explore contemporary conversations surrounding race, gender, immigration, the class system, LGBTQ+, climate and many more interesting topics. We read one book each half-term and then meet to discuss it with tea and cake (which are of course essential). This year, we are also hoping to launch a series of charity events for Feedback Madagascar, which is a charity that provides textbooks to schools in Madagascar. We will be meeting soon to brainstorm charity fundraiser ideas.  

  1. Why did you get involved in Reloading the Canon Club yourself?  

Last year, I set up the book club because I felt it was important that our pupils are exposed to a wide range of texts. Over the last few years, we have worked hard as a department to ensure that our syllabus includes a range of writers from around the world. Traditionally in the UK, the English curriculum has been built around the study of texts from the Literary Canon, which unfortunately narrows the syllabus. This can feel limiting for both teachers and students. While it’s important to still read these texts, the Literary Canon has always failed to represent marginalised voices, and we feel it’s essential that our young people are exposed to a wide range of literature.  

  1. When and where do you meet? 

We meet in my room, MB32, and I email out dates for the book club meeting each half term. Notices are also put in form trays.  

  1. What has been your proudest achievement as a club? 

The club started last year and then had to be put on hold during the January lockdown and the period of blended learning over the Spring and Summer. I was tentative about starting up the club again, as I was worried we would not have many sign ups, so I was quite bowled over by the amount of pupils who expressed an interest.  

  1. How many members do you have? 

We have 50 members.  

  1. How can pupils join? 

The club is open to S4, S5 and S6 pupils. Anyone who is interested should email Ms Saldanha to sign up.  

  1. What are your goals? 

To expose pupils to a range of literature that showcases voices from around the world and all walks of life.  

To continue to foster a love of reading.  

To begin charity fundraising events for Feedback Madagascar.  

  1. What is the best book you have read/What has been your favourite session so far this year? 

We have only read one book this academic year (2021-2022), so I guess our favourite would be that one?! It was The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi. It’s a frank, witty coming of age tale set in Uganda. The story follows, Kirabo, a bold and inquisitive young girl as she begins to understand the dynamics between power and gender in Uganda.  

Stay up to date with school news by signing up to our E-Newsletter    Sign Up