For my capstone, I created the SLA Book Club, and and explored reading and analytical skills, community togetherness and leadership exemplification during the process. It started during a summer meeting with my mentor, Ms. Rami. We asked ourselves what our goals were, and how would set out to meet them. We ultimately came to the decision to hold monthly meetings, including snacks and drinks every time. When the school year arrived, I decided to form the book club committee which was a group of about 8 seniors who helped me with my decisions on book choices and meeting structures. I ended up starting the club in mid-October and had my very first meeting in the end of November. I skipped December (because of winter break) and carried on for January, February, and May. Each meeting was held in the cafe, and lasted about an hour. Every member either contributed a snack or a drink, giving everyone a role of some sort. The turnout for each meeting varied, and so did each discussion. We explored gender and identity, sexuality, humanity, growth, uncertainty and many other themes throughout. Thorough out this process, not only did I do something that I loved, but I tried to create another space for the readers of our schools, and bring us together. I learned what it meant to organize groups and events, and ultimately lead them. I’ve learned what it means to create a community.
Slezak, Ellen. The Book Group Book. 3rd Edition. Chicago: Chicago Press Review, 2000. Print.
What I like about this sources is that it kind of reinforces the idea that book clubs are meant to bring people, and that’s what I want to accomplish. This source features the various accounts of everyday people and the books clubs that they manage or are a part of. It also includes many chapters of tips. One particular chapter that helped me out was a chapter about setting goals, and letting those goals serve as guidelines. For example, setting a goal for any meeting determines the way that the meeting is structured and the way that book is looked into. Depending on what one wants their meeting to project, setting goals that relate to message of the book is important.
1. Loevy, Diana. The Book Club Companion. New York: Penguin Group, 2006. Print.
While a good part of this book is spent giving suggestions on specifics books, it includes several helpful sections in which it discusses group discussion basics. Here, I recieved helpful tips such as the following: 1. not expect to have all the answers, 2. establish a roundtable format that forces everyone to share their ideas at one point or another, 3. try to include some visuals of the book at the meetings, and 4. try to leave the group with a parting thought. I found that these tips are very useful for engaging all the members. It also tries to make things interesting. For the 3rd tip, I find that images definitely hold people’s attention really well.
John, Lauren Zina. Running Book Discussion Groups. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 2006. Print.
As the title suggests, this sources focuses heavily on all of the components that establish a good discussion, and one of which, includes breaking the ice. While I had given this plenty of thought beforehand, this book really gave me some great ideas for ways to ease our way into the discussion. Some of the tips included the obvious quick summary of the book, and others were more interesting. One idea was to ask all of the members to rate the book and justify their ratings. Another idea was to read reviews of the books and compare those reviews to our opinions and questioning whether or not book lived up to the reviews that it received. Overall, the importance of a successful meeting opening can help to set the course of the rest of the meeting.
4.. "1. TIPS FOR LEADING DISCUSSIONS."http://www.hrea.org/. Human Rights Education Associates. Web. 31 Jan 2013. <http://www.hrea.org/pubs/tips-discussion.html>.
What I like about this sources is that it really gives me a feeling of leadership and ownership over my position as leader. Not only does it give tips like being prepared and ready, but it asks me to be sympathetic and understanding of each of the members. It also offers tips on things not to do, like being overbearing, and trying to swing the conversation in the way that I want it to. The club is supposed to open, meaning that it develops of their own accord. I know that I will be an open leader and still maintain a level of control over the talk.
5. "Book Club Discussion Questions and Topics."www.book-clubs-resource.com. N.p.. Web. 31 Jan 2013.
Like my other sources, this sources offers insight on questions and topics to highlight at a meeting. i like particularly the topsi that they offer. It states that some of the topics should book-relevant, but it also gives topics that are universal and applicable to any conversation. I think that I enjoy those topics more because they sort of highlight, on a larger scheme of things, exactly what I am trying to achieve at each meeting. I want to have broad topics to open with anyway, to ease the members into the conversation- I feel like it would give me the more thorough conversation.
6.. "Tips For Successful Group Discussion."www.managementstudyguide.com. N.p.. Web. 31 Jan 2013.
This source offers more, great ideas to ensuring that one has a great discussion. One of things that it focuses on is preparedness. It constantly reminds that not only one member or the jus the leader has to be prepared, but so does everyone. I feel like this is very relevant to my club at the moment, because sometimes i feel like I am the only one who is ready to discuss the book, and I am the only with notes to share. However, I know that is not the case. I see that others in the club don’t do things things they way that I do, and they contribute in their own way.
7.Harper, Henry H. The Functions of the Book Club. Cambridge: The University Press, 1908. PDF.
Even though this is a much older book, I found that it was particularly helpful with just backing up what I want to do. The book describes what the heart of a book club is, and I agree completely. It describes that a book club is there to form a circle of people who like to explore and exchange ideas and intellect. It also says that book cubs build connections and circles amongst people of common interest. I find that this is completely applicable to what I am doing with my book and I like that this source says that same thing.
Litlovers. "Games and Icebreakers." Www.litlovers.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://www.litlovers.com/run-a-book-club/games-a-icebreakers>.
This source definitely helps with one of the harder parts of running a book club, that being actually starting the meeting. This source offered me great and creative ideas to starting each meeting, and easing ourselves into the discussion of the book. One of the creative tips that I liked was called: “Whose line is it anyway?” and in this game, the idea was to read several quotes from the book, and members would try to guess who said them. Another ice breaker was called “Extreme Make-Over” and in this game, every member would have the opportunity to redesign a character.
"Monthly Book Club Tips." Www.readinggroupguides.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://www.readinggroupguides.com/roundtable/tips.asp>.
What I like about this source is that it is creative but very functional. It offers tips for every month and it makes each meeting different and more interesting. It offered ideas for each month: some months, a different person should be leader and others, one person should lead for a given period of time. It gave certain themes for each month; so if a month had certain holidays, then the book for that month should relate to significance of that month. I like that these tips are diverse and offer something different to the table, and it could make each member excited to show up.
Watkin, Jeremy. "Book Club: Top Customer Service Articles 1/11/2012." Web log post.Www.communaticatebetter.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://communicatebetterblog.com/category/book-club/>.
What I like about this source is that it offers creative example of an activity made by an actual book club. One of the ideas was to have each member find an article or example of good customer service. I feel like this mirrors the book that they read. I also feel like it has shown a fun and creatives way to engage the community even outside of the meetings. I hope to be able to assign outside assignments to my members, and keep them engaged even outside of the meetings. I feel like that is an important way to keep the conversation going.
"Book Club Questions." Www.book-club-queen.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://www.book-club-queen.com/book-club-questions.html>.
I feel like this is one of the things that I can struggle in the most and this was very helpful. It offered a variety of questions that are good really get to heart of the book and really draw out god thinking. Some of the questions that it posed were surrounding how eel the reader could relate to the book, or whether or not they characters were realistic or not. Other questions were regarding the emotions- if any- that arose when one read the book, or whether or not it was the bore of their lives. I like that the questions are simple, yet they can sort draw out a conversation.
"Tips on Handling Difficult Situations." Www.bookbrowse.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://www.bookbrowse.com/bookclubs/advice/index.cfm/fuseaction/difficult_meetings>.
This has been a great source to really getting around those tight corners that can be found when in book clubs. One of the situations thats it was posed was the scenario in which one member of the group doesn’t speak as much as others. The way around that is to gently ask them directly what they think about a question. The difficulty is that perhaps the person is just very shy and has a hard time sharing their ideas. However, if a safe and open environment is created for them, then hopefully he or she would be more confident in sharing their ideas.
"The "Basic" Plots in Literature." Www.ipl.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://www.ipl.org/div/farq/plotFARQ.html>.
While this source isn’t particularly about book clubs, it does offer information about the basic plot lines shown in books. I felt that this source would be helpful because it can help one almost predict what they are in for, if they can identify their book with one of these categories. Some of the more obvious categories were stories that ended happily and stories that ended unhappily. There were also categories that involved (wo)man versus externals forces like nature, religion, God, and other topics. I found that this source forced me to really look at my book choices and see what I was aiming for.
Cohen, Hsin-Yi. "10 Tips For a Successful Book Club." The Reading Club. N.p., 16 Sept. 2012. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://www.thereadingclub.co.uk/tentipssuccessfulbookclub.html>.
This sources encompassed a lot of steps that could make a book club more successful. It included things from setting book goals and thinking critically about the books that were read (during a lull in the conversation). What I like about the idea of setting a goal for the book is that it makes me want to draw something specific from the book. I see that in the long run, to would really add to the conversation. It could also be a measure of success. Thinking critically about the book would offer insight and a bit of closer to the book. I feel like this is one of the things that should be done in any meeting to get the most out of the book.
Admin. "Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of a Successful Book Club." Www.21cwoman.com. N.p., 20 June 2012. Web. 31 Jan. 2013. <http://www.21cwoman.com/top-10-dos-and-donts-of-a-successful-book-club/>.
What I liked about this source is that it offered helpful tips, and it also has things to avoid. One of things was to not stick to one genre. I found that to be helpful because as the leader, I want to satisfy as many needs and tastes as possible. So far, I’ve had a realistic read, a fantasy read, and a quirky realistic read. I will definitely open the doors to having more genres and maybe even more types of stories. Another good tip that this site offered was to not pick a long book. This longest book that I’ve chosen so far has been a bit over 500 pages, and I don’t think I’ll go too far over that.
Literacy is one of the great accomplishments of man kind. The ability to transmit ideas, beliefs, messages, thoughts, through the use of words and pure imagination is something to be celebrated. Here at SLA, we celebrate learning, thinking, and growth. We celebrate science, music, ideas, math, engineering through clubs and events. Yet we’ve yet to dedicate a space for stories. We’ve yet to have a create an environment celebrating stories and dedicated to reading. That’s where I step in. I’ve decided to create the SLA Book Club to unify our avid readers and writers across the SLA community.
The idea began towards the end of my Junior year with my English teacher, Ms. Rami, and avid reader a book lover among us. She discussed her ideas on bringing together a community of readers and writers, and that is where is I stepped into the picture. Together, we met over the summer to discuss matters regarding our goals for club, and the plan to see it through. Beyond the influence of Ms. Rami, I decided that I wanted to do something that I normally wouldn’t, start something. I wasn’t one to step up and create an event, but I’d rather be behind the scenes giving my support to someone who, on the hand, would. I took my capstone as the opportunity to change that, and step outside of my comfort zone. I decided to use my book club not only for the community, but for my own leverage; I wanted to truly become a leader.
I’ve been able to incorporate the SLA Core Values into my capstone quite effectively:
Inquiry- I aimed to satisfy certain questions such as, How can I give back to SLA? How can I bring meaningful discussion to the table? What is the strength in book clubs? What good can they do for a community? What are the things that I intend to get out the of club? What are good ways to run a club? and time with the club has answered these questioned. I sought to not only analyze books and search for answers within them, but I questioned the effectiveness of the club.
Research- My biggest thing to research was how to run a book club in the first place. I ended up consulting numerous books from which sprang some key points that I included in my meetings. These include tactics to good discussion like having preparedness, and asking engaging questions, and sharing the spotlight. Other tactics that I learned from my researched included sharing the power. While I ultimately made the decision that I saw fit, I always engaged the members and included their input and opinions. I employed these during every meeting to demonstrate and apply my learning from my research.
Collaboration- The collaboration was on the whole was between myself, my mentor, my committee and the club itself. I combined the input of these people into my executive decisions, such as club dates, book choice, and food purchases. As previously stated, one thing that I had intended was for everyone to contribute not only their voice, but also food. Through this, everyone would have another responsibility in the club.
Presentation- Presentation was simple: the meetings themselves. Here the magic happened in which everyone came together to share their thoughts,feelings and connections made with the book. I took extensive notes and gave my own insights of course.
Reflection- I can say that this is definitely evident in the meetings themselves, and through my very frequent emails to my club members. In these two areas, I was able to get review and opinions from members and take their ideas for incorporation and betterment of the next meeting.
The initial steps to starting this capstones were always meetings. During the summer before senior years, I had meeting with my mentor, Ms. Rami. We asked ourselves what our goals were, and how would set out to meet them. We ultimately came to the decision to hold monthly meetings, including snacks and drinks every time. On the first day back to school I created an Interest Sheet, instead of a sign-up sheet because it seemed like a bigger commitment, and advertised my club during our school’s mini-club convention. After getting an estimate of my numbers, I proceeded to make an email list and send an introductory email to all of those of who showed interest. I then went to form my committee, SLA Book Club Committee, which was a group of 8 seniors whom I met with on occasion to help with logistics and coordination of meetings, and the all important book choice. After getting my first book settled, I held a introductory meeting- on October 23rd, during both lunches- to club, to see who was really interested- the turnout was about 20. I gave each a copy of the my letter giving club details, goals, and books to be read. After that, I used October to work more closely with the committee. During that month we assigned two books to choose from, set the first meeting date for November 27th. I took pictures and even made video of this meeting. I skipped a December (because of winter break) and carried on for January, February, and May. Each meeting was held in the cafe, and lasted about an hour.
Some of the biggest challenges that I faced were really within communication for the most part. As stated about, March and April were skipped- even though books were still assigned- but I ended up having a mid-May meeting to discuss those books, and even had to push my May meeting into June. The reason was simple: I feel behind in my own work. I can say that it was from not only the workload of being a senior, but also the workload of life. Regarding communication, my means was through email, which had great advantages disadvantages. People didn’t always respond as quickly as I would’ve liked, and sometimes they wouldn’t respond at all. On the other had, sending an email was definitely far easier than holding tons of mini-meetings. Aside form my personal challenges, I was able to overcome my sometimes poor reception by simple things: like approaching people directly. Another challenge that I faced revolved turnout. Like most clubs, interest can sometimes fade, and so do the numbers. I saw my numbers had not been as high as my first two meetings, but I was far from discouraged. Instead, i was touched my the consistency of those who kept coming back, and those who were always engaged. That kept my enthusiasm high. As far as making it happen, most of the money came out of my pocket, but my groups member bought snacks and drinks, contributed money for pizza. I also made use of SLA cameras and equipment for documentation of my first meeting.
While there are literally hundred of things that I could have done for my capstone, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Not only am I proud of myself for taking on such a risky position as a leader, and really putting myself out there, I’m proud of the meetings. I’m proud of the great depth that was explored in each book, and I’m proud of connections that were made. I’m proud of the ridiculous comments, and all the laughs. I’ve learned that’s its not easy to be in charge of something, and hope that people continue to show you their support- I’ve seen some members come twice, once and not at all. However, I’ve learned that taking risks can yield great rewards. I’ve seen that in the group that stuck through with me the whole way. Though, I would do some structural things differently. I would definitely employ the use of some other form of communication, rather than just email, so that everyone and myself would be on the same page. One thing that was recommended to me was to create a reading guide- though I never did it. Perhaps next time, I will give that a try. I would probably expand my range of genre even wider as well.
Overall, I believe that I’ve made a worthy attempt to better SLA, even if it were on a smaller level. To me, the success came because of those who consistently came, and consistently read, and consistently shared their ideas. That is something that makes me more proud than anything else in this entire process. So yes, I attained my goal; I’ve given some students some great books to read thorough the year, and I brought us together over food. While my mark can't necessarily be seen, it can never be taken away.