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Riverview Junior High Students Embrace Book Club

Nov 12, 2015 01:26PM ● Published by Julie Slama

By Julie Slama

For 10 years, Riverview Library and media specialist Kathy Dale have been selecting books for junior high students who are motivated to come discuss books just for their enjoyment.

“The Early Bird Book Club is a reading program that is fun, and students are doing it for the love of reading, not because of testing,” Dale said.

Each school quarter, Dale selects books for students to check out and read in preparation for the reading club.  The first meeting is set for Oct. 9 and has 13 different titles, ranging from “A Wrinkle in Time,” “100 Cupboards” and “Pay it Forward” to “Chains,” “Shadow of the Wolf” and “Jackaby.”

“I read every book to make sure it’s OK and try to find something that will strike an interest with every student.  I start reading in January and finish in June to screen the books.  I choose only top-rated, five-star books,” she said, adding that some books may be favorites while others are new on the top releases. 

Dale has found through the years that if she offers more choices, more students attend book club.

“We had 126 students last October and are expecting well over 100 this October.  I have several copies of each book so students can check them out and read them for our discussion,” she said.

On the day, students may sit at a table where the book is being discussed. Sometimes, if students have read several book club titles, they may move from table to table.  The Parent-Teacher-Student Association provides a continental breakfast and holds a drawing for prizes, such as books and gift cards. 

Afterward, Dale gives a short book talk that highlights the next book club’s selection of titles and students may check these books out before heading to class.

“They’re usually all gone that morning,” she said, adding that students can put their names on hold for a particular title.  There are already more than 20 holds for some books for October’s book club.  

In December, the books are planned to center around the holidays.  For February’s book club, the themes will focus on Valentine’s Day, and the final book club will be held in the spring.

As a bonus this year, students in English classes have a bingo game to complete, and one of the squares entails reading an Early Bird Book Club title and participating in the morning discussions. 

After the books are used for the book club, teachers may use them for literacy circles in their classrooms, where groups of about five students will read and discuss the books, she said.

“This has been a huge success in getting students to read and to love reading,” Dale said.

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