Pacific Palisades Mom Expands Home-Based Book Club and Tutoring Program
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Since moving to Marquez Knolls a year and a half ago, Marney Sobel-Abadian has not only fallen in love with the Palisades, but she has encouraged scores of local children to fall in love with reading—an activity she called “exercise for the mind.”
Using her 15 years of experience as a teacher as a launching point, Sobel started “Marney’s Book Club” out of her home and, primarily through word of mouth, the club now consists of four groups, each with four or five students.
She and her family relocated to Pacific Palisades from Montreal, Canada, in early August 2019. Since then, she said her life has not been the same.
“My husband Max is a fashion and celebrity photographer, and had been coming to Los Angeles for many years,” Sobel explained. “He absolutely loves it here. Last April, he brought me here on what I thought was a birthday weekend, but it was really to convince me to relocate. We visited many areas and we fell in love with the Palisades. It’s the only place we went that I said, ‘I can see myself here.’ It felt like home to me.
“I was skeptical about moving at first since we had a nice life back in Canada. I returned to my teaching career after being at home raising my kids, but I decided to give LA a go.”
Over the past year, Sobel took up baking and figured out she is actually quite good at it. She said she enjoys it immensely, but admitted that teaching and being with kids is her main passion.
“Having all three of my kids home, plugged in all day—whether it’s for online schooling or not—gave me a huge wakeup call and reality check that very few kids today are reading anymore,” Sobel shared. “I started thinking about all the amazing books I’ve read with my students over the years, the impact these novels had on them, and how many students would come to me at the end of the school year and say, ‘Mrs. Sobel, I never liked reading until your class.’ I realized I needed to tap into this, which brings me to where I am today. Over the past few months, I’ve begun running book and bake clubs at home, and it’s going exceptionally well. I’m over the moon.”
Sobel explained she keeps her group sizes small to stay COVID-precaution-friendly, but she has several different groups and ages. A maximum of five kids at a time come to her house to read, discuss, socialize and enjoy homemade baked goods in an outdoor setting.
She said she prepares the freshly baked goods herself, from blueberry muffins to banana chocolate chip loaves, oatmeal cookies and other delicacies—and the best part is, her students are reading, learning and socializing.
“This has been so life changing as I know my passion is working with these innocent souls who have so much to offer this world yet are being bogged down by excessive technology and screens,” Sobel said. “The kids were enjoying the treats I’m serving so much that I decided to expand my book clubs into a once-a-month, read-and-bake for groups of up to five.
“In September, I had two groups come in and we learned about Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We read and discussed some of the traditions. We ate apples dipped in honey, which represent having a sweet year and we baked apple cinnamon muffins. The absolute best part of this was the children were all from different cultural and religious backgrounds.”
Sobel said she was impressed with how open and receptive the parents were.
“They believe in my vision, and as a result, my little business has expanded thanks to the amazing parents in our community who want so much for their kids,” Sobel added. “Fun is so important, but education along with the fun is unforgettable and priceless.”
Marney and Max live in Marquez Knolls with their three kids—Lucca, a sophomore at Palisades Charter High School; Val, a freshman at Pali High who last year came first in his weight class in wrestling at Paul Revere Charter Middle School; and daughter Roya, a fourth-grader at Palisades Charter Elementary School.
Lucca is currently designing a website that Sobel hopes to launch soon.
She is also starting a beginner French class this week and hosting kids’ birthday parties. She currently tutors two days per week.
She currently runs book clubs for second-, third-, fourth- and sixth-graders with students ranging in age from 8 to 13 who attend local schools: Palisades Charter Elementary, Marquez Charter Elementary, Canyon Charter Elementary and Corpus Christi schools.
Most of the participants—about 85%—live in the Palisades, while others are from Santa Monica and Brentwood. Since her house has a pool, Sobel is also launching a swim club, incorporated with book club, with a certified swim instructor.
“I wasn’t sure once kids go back to school if this will be sustainable, but now I’m inclined to think it is,” said Sobel , who used to teach seventh and eighth grade. “I’m passionate about this, the almost 20 students and the community. I’m very optimistic about the future.”
To learn what Marney’s Book Club has in store, check it out on Instagram @homemadewith love_la. To reach Sobel, email email@example.com or call 310-592-6676.
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