The joint book club between Waltham High School and the Waltham Public Library is ending its fifth year and I couldn’t be more excited. The book club started in the fall of 2003 as a collaboration between high school librarian, Kelly McCollum and myself, back when I was the young adult librarian. The first four years we met after school and read a variety of books. Our most popular books were What’s in a Name by Ellen Wittlinger and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I remember our first meeting so vividly when we read Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman, and discussed the numerous challenges the book had received at other schools. This inspired a lively discussion about banned and challenged books. I also enjoyed going and meeting teenagers who normally might not have visited the public library. There were a number of our members who became regular public library users after attending book club meetings.
The club has gone some changes over the last few years, and this year, we tried something different. Led by current high school library teacher, Kendall Boninti, the book club now meets during student’s lunch breaks. We have met all year and the new format seems to be working really well. Students who were unable to attend our after school club, can now more easily attend. Teachers have also been attending, and they and the students are able to see different sides of each other. Paula Cerrato, a reference librarian here, has also become involved with the club.
Our most popular book this year, was probably Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, which led to a very enthusiastic discussion among the students. This morning, we held a discussion on Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, which prompted the students to discuss a variety of issues raised in the book. Next month, we will hold our last meeting of the year, but I look forward to continuing this relationship and discussing books with the teenagers of Waltham.
I am grateful to first, Kelly, and now Kendall, as those who have made such great efforts with getting the book club started and keeping it going. It has been very instrumental in strengthening the library’s relationship with the public schools.
posted by: Laura