Something special is happening in Lincoln County, West Virginia. A high school book club supported by the Lincoln County Reading Council, an affiliate of the International Reading Association, is driving new levels of student reading and generating lots of excitement.
Carol Turley, Advanced Environmental Science teacher and LCHS Reading Council President, sponsors the LCRC High School Book Club. Servicing 120 student members in 2009-10 and 89 student members in 2010-11, this unique club has set a goal to become the first West Virginia Reading Association student book club and to have the club Internationally Chartered.
Dinner and a Movie
Responding to a need from the community for planned activities between 3:35 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. for high school students wanting to attend Friday night football games, Ms. Turley offers a free “Dinner and a Movie” event for her book club students. Non-members may attend for $1.00. Students lead discussions on the similarities and differences between a chosen book/movie, a light dinner is served, and the movie is shown in the school’s theatre. The event ends in time for the after school bus to transport students to the field.
Reading to Younger Students
In its Trained to Read Aloud project, the club dispatched members throughout Lincoln county to accentuate their motto, “Create a Smile, Read to a Child” by reading to elementary and middle school students and leading writing activities using the county’s Writing Road Map program. The students visited the elementary schools, read Christmas stories to the students, and led them in a letter to Santa Claus writing activity.
Gift of a Book
The high school and the Lincoln County Supporters purchased one book for every book club member during 2009-2010, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and for 2010-2011, C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The students read the book, met for book club discussions, and then traveled to the Huntington Mall cinema to see the book transformed into a movie. They were also treated to CiCi’s pizza for lunch.
Back at the school, Ms. Turley facili¬tated a compare/contrast discussion between the book and movie by allowing high school book club students/ Future Educators Association (FEA) members to lead the meeting. One student in attendance shared how the comparison/contrasting group discus¬sions helped him “finish a book for the first time.”
Later the LCHSBC took their compare/contrast book discussion activity to a middle school that was reading the same book. The middle school children had attended a theatre presentation of the book. Both high school and middle school students enjoyed discussing and reflecting on the literacy activity.
Ms. Turley stated, “The high school students’ level of self-esteem rose dramatically that day.” She further stated, “The bus ride back to the school was filled with student comments of how they ‘loved doing this’ and ‘it was so much fun’. One high school football player said, “I didn’t realize that I could ever have an impact on students’ love of reading when I didn’t even think I was a good enough reader myself - until now.”
One year later, when the eighth grade students visited the high school for Step - Up Week, an activity to help transition students to high school, a student searched until he found Ms. Turley and shared how the club’s visit in 2009 had made him feel like he could become a better reader and that he had been doing a lot better in reading since their visit. “We had so much fun last year when your book club spent the afternoon with us,” he explained.
Early Library Opening
An additional avenue Ms. Turley opened for the students is to provide access to the high school’s library a half hour before school opens each morning. The students are granted access to books on tape, library resources, computers, and the opportunity to receive help on class assignments or projects.
Literacy Tent at the Fair
The book club has also participated in the Lincoln County fair by providing hands-on activities and Story Time under the Literacy Tent. During the Fall Fest the book club students dressed in their favorite storybook character costumes and marched in the homecoming parade. Another event the book club participated in was ‘Nice to Meet You Day’, sponsored by Mountain State Leaders, American Red Cross/AmeriCorps, an event for organizations to share what they can offer the community.
An impact on a first generation college student is being made by the reading council due to a scholarship that has been awarded for the next four years to a book club member. The Edward Frazier Scholarship Committee graciously awarded the scholarship to LCHS Book Club member, Julia Clevinger. Ms. Turley agreed to mentor Julia throughout her four year program by meeting prior to and at mid-term each semester to assist with scheduling classes and purchasing books.
A student-led membership drive was held at the end of the school year where senior high school book club members created power points and presented what the club has to offer incoming freshman.
As the 2011-12 school year begins, packets are being distributed throughout the county asking for schools’ faculty, teachers, students, parents, and community members to join and support the new council.
Cheryl is a seventh grade reading teacher at Enslow Middle School for the Cabell County School system in Huntington, WV, Vice-President for the Lincoln County Reading Council, and a doctoral candidate working on an Ed.D. in Curriculum Instruction at Marshall University. She recently completed a 21st Century Fellowship where she worked four years as an assistant professor of reading at Marshall University and served as a liaison for Marshall University's June Harless Center for Research and Professional Development. Her research focus is on Professional Development Schools (PDSs), Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), and their impact on student and teacher learning, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Homecoming parade. Reading Club 2010-2011. Reading to elementary school students.