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OACS high schools create collaborative book club

Written on June 29th, 2009

Club promotes reading, provides forum for students

Five Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) member schools joined together to form a Christian High School Book Club (CHSBC) during the 2008-2009 school year, and look forward to continuing the collaboration.

Durham Christian High School in Bowmanville, Hamilton District Christian High in Ancaster, London District Christian Secondary School in London, Smithville District Christian High School in Smithville and Woodland Christian High School in Breslau started the club to provide an opportunity for students to read some of the best recent Canadian young adult fiction titles and discuss the books with other students.

A couple years ago librarians from several OACS high schools started meeting and networking, proving to be a great resource for one another. It was at one of these meetings Suzanne Duiker-Kroon, librarian at Woodland Christian High School, presented about Woodland’s book club and invited other schools to join.

“I really like that there is something set up that promotes reading,” says Duiker-Kroon. “Reading is just so valuable for children’s education in all kinds of ways, and it’s not something that is done as much for leisure time as it used to be, so I think it’s good we are promoting it.”

The book club’s goals are to promote reading, to make students aware of quality Canadian young adult books, to expose to teenagers to various written genres, to provide opportunities for students to discuss the nominated titles and to evaluate the worldview in the story.

Wilma Veenkamp, librarian at the London high school, also says a benefit of the book club is getting students excited about reading.

“It gave them exposure to some current Canadian fiction and they enjoyed reading those and having the opportunity to discuss those and knowing that they were a part of a wider group of students,” Veenkamp says.

To select books for the book club, the librarians review books on the White Pine Book Club reading list and choose which to use and replace some with their own selections.

The CHSBC members all read the same books in order, and used a blog to capture comments and discussion. Two book authors found out about the blog and also posted comments.

The club ran from December to April. Students who read at least five of the nominated books voted on a winning novel for the CHSBC award, announced at a year-end meeting Woodland hosted for all the members called The Final Word 2009.

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Winning logo designed by Woodland student Lauren Kroon

The Final Word was held April 30. Morning activities included choosing a logo and announcing the year’s winning book, which was Run Like Jager by Karen Bass.

Marsha Skrypuch, author of Daughter of War, was a guest speaker and shared about her ambition to be an author and passion to tell hidden stories from the past. Daughter of War is one of Skrypuch’s books set during the Armenian genocide.

“It was really interesting and a lot of the kids really liked it,” says Duiker-Kroon.

Armenian members of the Woodland community provided music and a display of cultural and historical artifacts to complement the day, notes Duiker-Kroon.

Duiker-Kroon says the schools all indicated an interest in keeping the book club running, and will look to start the club again in September and run until March.

“I personally feel a real sense of accomplishment to have got this going with a bunch of different high schools together,” she says.