By Kerry Simizon
The JD Book Club was created for exploring and enjoying literature. Vice president Melissa Gao, a sophomore, and president Ana Martinez, a junior, hope to create a relaxing atmosphere for discussion, and they are even looking to do some community outreach this year.
So far this year, the book club has read “Every Day” by David Levithan and “The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey. Currently the club is working on “Shatter Me” by Tahereh Mafi. Books are chosen by members. “We’ll get together and people start making suggestions. [Based off of] a little background of the book, and if [the book] sounds good to the group, we put it on a list. Once no one has any more suggestions, we go through the list and pick the top three then vote on which order we should read them in,” explains sophomore Lauren Nandal.
Meetings, which are about every two weeks to once every month, go as followed: a brief informational meeting to kick start a new book and cover announcements, then a later meeting for a book discussion that contains a home-baked snack.
Often, members are asked to do a little project that goes along with the book being read for purposes of bonding and understanding the book. For example, a project might be sharing a favorite or meaningful quote with the group. Projects such as this will spark great discussion, according to Gao.
Officers also think up discussion questions for topics pertaining to the book to create a base for book discussions with the whole club. The questions usually lead to a deeper discussion and answering more questions that members have.
The club is primarily student-led. This way students can learn and practice leadership skills and really get their ideas out in the open and shared. “Most of us know at least one of the other members outside of the club, but now we all have all gotten to know each other and are basically all friends,” said Nandal.
“I think the benefits of having a discussion with a book club are multifaceted,” club adviser and school librarian Mary Panek explained. “I think some individuals [who] may not speak up in class and participate in class are more apt to feel secure in more of a friendly environment. I think it’s just another venue that is safe and comfortable, and that allows kids to articulate their thoughts and ideas with regards to the literature they're reading,” she said.
As for outreach, the book club is planning to have a book drive. The officers hope that this will take place soon, though no date has been set. Anyone will be able to participate by donating a gently used book for the club to bring to the children’s hospital. Gao and Martinez see this as a great way for the club to reach out to the community and share their own passion of reading. They are still working to coordinate this drive.
“It’s a nice collaborative process,” Panek says about book club reading. “Reading is often thought as an independent activity, but with the club, it just feels more social and provides more energy around literature and reading.”