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L.A. Beat

Reading clubs turn the page on whole new worlds for adults and youth

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Literacy Day is Jan. 27, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore books for the rest of the year. If you don’t know where to start, two book clubs Teenbrarian Paige McGeorge hosts a new book club for parents and children. Photo by Richard Amerybased of of the Lethbridge Public Library downtown branch and Lethbridge Public Library Crossings Branch on the west side are happy to point you in the right direction.

“We’re all readers, so reading a book a month isn’t a problem,” said Sheila Braund, a long standing member of the Definitely Not Plato reading group. For the past dozen years, the group has met on the fourth Monday of every month in the Lethbridge Public Library community meeting room to discuss their favourite books. The committee meets in June to determine the books they will be reading in the next year. All of the members get to submit their favourites, both new and  classic releases though the library must ensure they have enough copies of the book for everyone to read.

”We don‘t read a lot of pop fiction like Danielle Steele, but we read a lot of award winning books,” she emphasized.
 This month they are reading Calgary based author Betty Jane Hegerat’s latest creative non-fiction story “The Boy.” Hegerat has released several others including  “Delivery,” which  was shortlisted for the 2010 Alberta Literary Awards George Bugnet prize
 She will be coming down to Lethbridge to speak with the group when they meet this Wednesday, Jan. 25, though this is a special event.
 “We don’t do this very often because we don’t have any money for it, but we will for local or southern Alberta authors,” Braund continued, noting Hegerat is the mother of one of the librarians, so she was a perfect fit for the event.

Hegarat was part of the World On The Street Festival this past summer.
Braund is excited about this event and introducing the book to the group members.

“I read the book in three days, I couldn‘t put it down,” she enthused. She is excited she was able to recommend it to the group.
 The group also video conferences with members of the club living in rural areas, who are connected to the Chinook Arch library system. They can log in at 7:30 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month at their closest library to join the discussion, though she doesn’t know the exact number who do.

“A lot of them live in rural areas, so they have to drive to get to that library,” she said.
“It’s great to discuss our favourite books,” Braund said of her favourite part of the club.
“And it’s great to be able to draw people to our favourites,” she said.


 Crossings Branch Teenbrarian Paige McGeorge is excited about the first year of her Parent/Child Book CLub, though nobody showed up  for the past two months, presumably due to Christmas  activities in December and bone chilling weather this past Tuesday. The meet on the first Tuesday of the month at the Crossings Branch library. But instead of discussing specific books, they discuss genres.

Paige McGeorge holds a reading passport— an ongoing activity in January leading up to  Literacy Day, Jan. 27. Photo by Richard Amery“It’s aimed at  middle school  students, Grade 6-9 and their parents,” mcGeorge explained.
“It isn’t a traditional book club n that we don't read the same book each month, but we do discuss books from the same genre,” she said.

So far they have discussed mysteries and fantasies. The next meeting, Feb. 7, they will discuss Fairy Tales.
“We also watch a lot of book trailers,” she continued adding  she shows them to the group via streaming Youtube. Book trailers summarize books the same way  movie and TV show trailers summarize  movies and TV shows.
 The group usually draws four or five young people along with their parents, which makes for a nice, intimate group.
“ I wanted to do something that was primarily focussed on middle schools. Because that’s a good age to get into books,” she said.
“It gives them the chance to do some reading outside of school, but at a more critical level than just pleasure reading,” she said.
“We have a lot of very exciting discussions. There is a lot that can be said about fantasy,” she continued.
 The club also gives her a chance to do a little “market research,” to see what kind of books they are into and passing that information along to the board  to use when expanding their collection.
 She noted  there is a lot of interest in adventure  or quest stories, especially  Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.

“They like stories where a lot is happening and spy tories are really popular. They seem to like books with a lot of stuff going on,” McGeorge said.

“Often they’ll come up with ideas and ways of looking at  the books that I had never thought of. I might think something is lame, but they’ll say ‘no way ‘that’s really cool,’” she continued.

  While Family Literacy day is Jan. 27, the library’s activities are a lot more subdued than last year’s “play all day for literacy theme.” This year’s theme is  searching for literacy, so they have an ongoing activity leading up to Jan. 27.
“Parents and kids can pick up a passport at the library. There are 10 quests in it. They have to do things like “Look up the capital of Latvia or read with their family. If they complete five of them, they can enter their names and phone numbers into a draw for a really big prize. I don’t know what it is , but it will be very cool,” McGeorge enthused.
 Also on Literacy Day, the movie “Dolphin Tale,” will be screened at the Downtown branch.  And there will be a story-time at 10 a.m.

A version of this story appears in the Jan. 25, 2012 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times
— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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