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Spring, 2009                                         News for Youth Book Clubs


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We're pleased to bring you reading recommendations from youth book clubs around the country. 

We've also highlighted an inspiring school-based reading program that brings middle school students and community members together over books. 

The authors featured in our Choose a Book - Invite an Author program have news to share, including new releases and awards.  Take a moment to browse the titles and authors, and be sure to invite an author to join your next discussion.

Please take a moment to share news from your book club with us.

Happy Spring!

Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp
Co-authors of The Kids' Book Club Book
and The Book Club Cookbook

Reading Suggestions from Youth Book Clubs

Ravenous Readers of Bordentown Regional High School, New Jersey, recommend:
True Diary Parttime Indian
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (Little, Brown Young Readers, 2007), Fiction, 240 pages

"Junior is a lonely, sad Indian kid living on the Spokane 'rez'.   He can't change his poverty or his parents' drunkenness and depression, but he can change himself and rise above the limitations of the rez.  He leaves for Reardon, a rather small and somewhat claustrophobic town 22 miles away - seeking adventure, new friends, acceptance, and ultimately a new direction.

"This book was all powerful. Throughout the book, there are obstacles and hardships Junior faces, yet the author portrays them with warmth and laughter and hope through his cartoons.  Topics our group discussed include discrimination, self-esteem, drugs, loyalty, poverty, and the importance of education.  The students overwhelmingly loved this book.  The drawings are a sure hook for the reluctant reader, especially boys.  The boy who can't sit still will love the fast pace, the pictures and the occasional humor this book has to offer."

Journal Buddies

Journal BuddiesWisconsin's Viroqua Area School District has found success with a program that brings middle school students together with adults in the community over books - and inspires excitement about reading in both groups.
Reading specialist Mary Mulvaney-Kemp launched Journal Buddies in 2005. The program pairs adult volunteers from the community with sixth-graders; each adult-child pair selects a book they'd like to read, and over the next 4-6 weeks, emails back and forth to create an interactive "journal" about their reading selection.  Mentor and student also meet twice in person, once at a kickoff event where they select a book, and again at the end of the program, for a celebratory breakfast to wrap up discussion of the book.  "The first time the partners meet is always awkward," says Mulvaney-Kemp.  "But at the concluding breakfast, the room is full of conversation.  I usually have to break things up when it's time to go."
Communication between adults and students deepens their understanding of the literature and generates excitement about reading.  Pairs are encouraged to write about themselves, and connections they notice between the text and other texts, personal experiences, and world events.  Partners then respond to these observations or questions, and add their own.  Many partners read more than one book, and some continue to read together once the program is finished.  
The participation of community members is essential to the Journal Buddies program. Many of the adult reading partners are professionals in the community, including the mayor, a judge, bankers, businesspeople, and even the school superintendent. "The students will see these adults out and about within our small community, long after the completion of the project." says Mulvaney-Kemp.  "It strengthens our community when adults and youth know each other by name and develop positive relationships." She adds that adult volunteers find the time commitment quite reasonable, and judge their participation to be valuable.
Mulvaney-Kemp has also found success with variations on the program.  Establishing groups of three readers - one adult and two students - allows students to get the perspective of an adult as well as a peer.  This year, she's piloting this program with seventh-graders, so students can continue to benefit from the relationships they established with their mentors last year. 
Purchasing books is the main program cost, and the district received grant money to cover these expenses.  "It really is not expensive once you have a book collection," Mulvaney-Kemp says. "We continue to add books each year."  Titles selected by pairs in the past include Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick, Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes, Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, and Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff. 

For more information, contact Mary Mulvaney-Kemp at [email protected] (Enter "bookclub" in the subject line.)


Author News

Our Choose a Book - Invite an Author program allows you to browse for great titles for your club and schedule author chats.  Here, we bring you news from our featured authors.

Welcome to new authors Anna Hays, Charlotte Kandel and Michael Sullivan


The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard (March)


Look Both Ways by Jacquelyn Mitchard (March)

Portia's Exclusive and Confidential Rules on True Friendship by Anna Hays (May)


Escapade Johnson and the Coffee Shop of the Living Dead by Michael Sullivan:  2009 Mom's Choice Award Gold Medal for Juvenile Literature

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen: 2009 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers and named to the 2009 Texas Lonestar Reading list.  Audiobook: ALA 2009 Amazing Audiobook and finalist, 2009 Audie Award in the Teen Books category

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