When you think of a book club, chances are you’re picturing half a dozen people in a sitting room, sipping tea. But how’s this for a book club: 218 elementary school kids so excited about reading that they came to school early to talk about a book.
That was the scene at Lakewood Creek Elementary School last week, as educators there kicked off their new regular series of book discussions. Fifth grade teacher Tim Harris, who helped organize the event, said he was hoping to get 100 students from grades three through five to take part, so he was very happy with the turnout.
The new book club was inspired by author Steven Layne, who visited the Oswego School District last month. Layne suggested several ideas to build kids’ interest in reading, and one of them stuck with Harris: find a popular teacher or faculty member, Layne said, and have that person pick a book. Kids will be more inclined to read if someone they already like and respect is excited about it too, Layne said.
So Harris and his co-organizer, fourth grade teacher Caryn DeMasie, tapped Nick Buono, a popular third grade teacher, to launch the club. Buono chose The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau, a young-readers fantasy novel, and the first part of a four-book series. Buono said he hoped to get students interested enough to pick up the other three books as well.
Buono had more than just a book discussion in mind. He called on Harris, DeMasie and fourth grade teacher James Donaldson to act out scenes from the book, handed out replicas of one of the book’s props, and gave away copies to a few lucky students. The kids, who packed the school’s cafeteria, were delighted, and when they left 45 minutes later, they were buzzing about The City of Ember.
The new book club fits in with the emphasis on reading Oswego schools have been implementing this year. Lakewood Creek Elementary has just unveiled its reading lounge, a room designed for comfortable reading, and according to school officials, it’s been getting significant amounts of use.