Opinions aired at book club Discussion: At the Cockeysville library, students ages 8 to 11 talk about a selected book, then work on a related arts and crafts project.

July 26, 1998|By Ron Snyder | Ron Snyder,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

When children get together, it is usually not to discuss books.

Lisa Woznicki, assistant branch manager at Baltimore County's Cockeysville branch library, knew this -- and wanted to find a fun way for children to read a book and get together to talk about it.

She found her answer when she took her 7-year-old daughter to a book discussion for children at the White Marsh Barnes & Noble bookstore. On June 25, about 20 children -- ages 8 to 11 -- attended the inaugural meeting of the Junior Book Club at the Cockeysville library.

"I was looking for a way for kids, mostly in the upper elementary school grades, to meet other kids with different opinions and talk about books," Woznicki said.

The topic for the first meeting was "Tuck Everlasting" by Natalie Babbit, about a girl who finds a family that has discovered a fountain of youth and needs to decide whether she will stay with them.

Woznicki said she wants to pick books that will be popular with boys and girls, especially because only three boys signed up for the first meeting and only one attended.

"When I went to Pinewood Elementary School to tell the fourth-graders there about the club, I found out many of the girls had formed their own clubs, while boys had not," Woznicki said. "That does not mean that boys were not interested, however, because there were a few who showed interest. It can be hard for boys to want to be involved in a book club when they walk in and all they see" are girls.

The club differs from adult book clubs in that after the discussion, participants take part in a related arts and crafts project.

"I want the kids to have fun and not have them think they are in school," Woznicki said.

She stressed that adults are not allowed in the meeting room while the discussion is under way, so the children will be less inhibited.

"The idea behind this club is to show kids that it is OK to have different opinions, but in order to do that, they have to feel comfortable enough to talk," Woznicki said.

Kathryn Shaughnessy, 9, of Phoenix heard about the club from her mother. She said she enjoys many types of books, but especially those about animals.

"After I got 'Tuck Everlasting,' I began to read it, and by the time I got to the third chapter, I couldn't put it down," Kathryn said, noting that she enjoyed the Junior Book Club because each child had something different to say about the book.

"A lot of the people there did not like the book because it jumped around a lot, but I liked that about the book because the story can surprise you and what you thought was going to happen did not," she said.

Kathryn's friend, Jenna Dooley, 9, of Cockeysville, who attended the meeting with her, said she learned a lot while having fun at the same time.

"I never knew two people could read the same book and see it in a totally different way," Jenna said.

Woznicki said she was glad to see the children were interested in hearing other opinions about the book and hoped what they learn at the club will help them.

"One of my goals is to give them reading skills they can use later [in] life by showing them how to analyze a book in a real informal way," Woznicki said.

The Junior Book Club's next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss "Shiloh" by Phyllis Naylor. The club will not meet next month and in September. Information: 410-887-7750.

Pub Date: 7/26/98

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