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Book Club Guide for My Flint Hills Childhood

Updated on July 23, 2018
Virginia Allain profile image

A librarian through and through, Virginia Allain writes about book topics and information for library users and librarians.

Gail Lee Martin's memoir about her Depression era childhood in Kansas.
Gail Lee Martin's memoir about her Depression era childhood in Kansas. | Source

Kansas Memoir Makes a Great Discussion Topic for a Book Group

Book club members will thoroughly enjoy traveling back through time to the 1930s with this nostalgic memoir. Written by Gail Lee Martin, it was self-published for her 85th birthday. My Flint Hills Childhood provides a wealth of topics to fuel book club discussions. Members will find it an enjoyable reading experience that taps into current interest in what life was like during the Great Depression.

You'll find it easy to get discussions rolling with the topic guides and suggested questions provided below.

Questions to Get Your Book Group Talking

  • What memories of family stories does this book trigger for you? What did family members tell you about the Great Depression? How did Gail Martin's memories differ from your impression of the 1930s.
  • If you could turn back time, what would you change about family life now to make it more like the author describes in her book?
  • In My Flint Hills Childhood, Gail Martin tells of recycling flour and feed sack material to make dresses. What other ideas for thrifty living did you gather from her stories?
  • Ask participants to contrast the era of their childhood to the author's childhood in the 1930s. What was different and what was similar?
  • The Good Old Days... what wasn't so good about those days?
  • What essay in My Flint Hills Childhood struck a chord with you and why?
  • What could you tell about the author's relationship with her father from her descriptions? How about her relationship with her mother?
  • What was Gail Lee Martin's most admirable quality? Is this someone you would want to know or have known? Does the author remind you of someone you know or a family member?
  • Compare this book to other titles your book group has read. Is it like any of them? Did you enjoy it more or less than other books you've read? What do you think will be your lasting memories of the book as a whole? How about the subject specifically?
  • Do you want to read more books by this author or more about the same topic?

Gail Became a Published Author in Her 80s

She worked many years writing the essays and finally self-published them with the help of her daughter, a librarian.
She worked many years writing the essays and finally self-published them with the help of her daughter, a librarian. | Source

Links to Topic Guides for My Flint Hills Childhood

The topic guides give background detail about subjects in the book. These help as discussion starters for a book club.
The topic guides include: Feedsack Dresses, Collecting Aprons, A Pet Badger, The Flint Hills of Kansas, and Vintage Motorcycles and Vintage Cars.

There are topic guides for what old-fashioned holidays were like in the 1930s. These include Christmas, Thanksgiving and Halloween.

The topic guides include ones about towns in the book (Hamilton, Teterville, and Tyro).

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Topics Included in My Flint Hills Childhood

» brick making
» camping
» catching rabbits
» celebrating Halloween
» Civil War
» conserving water
» decorating for Christmas
» dyeing Easter eggs
» family history for Towers, Vinings, McGhees
» fishing with trotlines
» forming a Sunday school
» glass making
» home remedies
» mad dog
» oil field accident
» oil field camp housing
» pet badger
» picking wild foods and berries
» picnics
» polio
» prairie fires
» rag dolls
» recycling
» salt gathering
» Saturday at the movies
» scarlet fever quarantine
» school fire
» sewing clothing
» Thanksgiving foods
» wash days
» World War I and World War II

Decorate the Table with a Mason Jar

You can use wildflowers or make some paper flowers like these. Perfect for the book club refreshment table.
You can use wildflowers or make some paper flowers like these. Perfect for the book club refreshment table. | Source

Menu Ideas for the Book Club Meeting

If the book group shares a meal after the book discussion, recreate a 1930s home-cooked meal of fried chicken, biscuits and homemade jam, green beans with a little bacon in with them.

If the group usually just has a dessert, prepare homemade biscuits with sliced strawberries served over them and homemade whipped cream to top it. No, Dream Whip isn't the same as real whipped cream. A different dessert would be baked apples (see the video for making these). If anyone has an ice cream maker, make homemade ice cream and top it with fresh berries.

Decorate the table with a vintage glass canning jar with wildflowers like daisies and goldenrod in it.

Some of Gail Martin's Heritage Recipes

Available on a postcard from Zazzle to send to your friends or to give out at the book club meeting.
Available on a postcard from Zazzle to send to your friends or to give out at the book club meeting. | Source
Available on a postcard from Zazzle to send to your friends or to give out at the book club meeting.
Available on a postcard from Zazzle to send to your friends or to give out at the book club meeting. | Source

Vintage Photo of Gail Lee Martin

A childhood photo of the author (the youngest child).
A childhood photo of the author (the youngest child). | Source

Chapters in the Book

My Flint Hills Daddy
My September Birthday
Catching Rabbits
Jolly Was a Badger
Every Precious Drop
The Prairie Dolls My Mother Made
Our Oil Field Home
Kansas Glass
Sunday School
Homemade Love
Recycling Flint Hills Style
Gone Fishing on the Cottonwood
My Mother Was a Writer
A Family of Readers
I Passed the Eight Grade
Mother's Home Remedies
Mother's Aprons
Mother's Potato Cakes
Saturday at the Movies
Why I Love Horses
Easter Memories
Mother's Day Memories
My Family's Patriotic Heritage
Looking Back at Halloween Fun
We Gave Thanks Prairie Style
I Was an Angel Once
Cranberries, Popcorn and Silver Stars
The Day the Mad Dog Came
Family Tree Chart
My Pioneering Great-Grandmother
The McGhee Family History
The Glass Chain
My Civil War Hero
More about the Author
McGhee, Vining, Tower Family Album

Join Gail Lee Martin's Fan Page on Facebook

Click on the link to go to Gail's fan page on Facebook. When you join, you get notices of stories about Gail's life.
Click on the link to go to Gail's fan page on Facebook. When you join, you get notices of stories about Gail's life. | Source

© 2014 Virginia Allain

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    • Homeplace Series profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      3 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun, Virginia! I lived in the Kansas Flint Hills for 15 years while a Professor at Emporia State University, before retiring in 2009. This book was a BIG DEAL there, while I was there. So nice to see it. Nice to see several of my old lenses/hubs featured as Related, as well. Neat! Thanks for sharing this fine book, by a fine lady! ;-)

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