You + Books
= Nerdy Book Club
The only requirement to be welcomed into the Nerdy Book Club is that you have to love books. It’s wonderful to be part of a community of book lovers but I challenge you to be more than simply a lover of books. If Nerdy Book Club is going to take over the world, we have to spread the word to readers but also recruit non-readers by helping them see the love they can have for books by knowing books to share with them.
You + Books + Others
= Nerdy Book Club World Domination
As Nerdy Book Club members, I adamantly believe we need to be the best role model for reading for every person we come in contact with. As Nerdy Book Club members, we demonstrate reading with passion, sharing books, discussing books, and recommending books. As Nerdy Book Club members, people should interact with us and think, “She/He really knows books!” And if we know books, we can connect books with the right readers, and then we are on the way to Nerdy Book Club world domination!
Kate Messner and I after her presentation at IRA
Last week, at the International Reading Association in Chicago, I attended a session with the fabulous Kate Messner, an energetic teacher and an enthusiastic librarian from St. George’s Independent School in Germantown, Tennessee. They had great ideas for connecting with authors and for promoting reading in a school. They said, “Treat reading promotion like you are the Marketing V.P. of Reading in your school!” I wanted to stand up and cheer. I am a hearing itinerant teacher for my district and I do my best to know books and talk books with kids every time I see them even though I am not a classroom teacher.
Adam Shaffer talked about this on Friday in his post “My Favorite Thing.” He wrote:
“As a teacher, it is hugely important to me that I be able to recommend books to my students. Not recommend like ‘I’ve heard this is good. You should read it.’ More like, ‘I read this book and thought about you. I know you’ll love it.’ I want to be a sharer of stories. To do that, I need to know what stories to share, and who to share them with.” This is exactly what I’m talking about!
A couple of months ago, I read Wonder by RJ Palacio. This book spoke to me in so many ways and I found myself compelled to put it into the hands of everyone I encountered. I realized right away that my student, Michelle, would identify with Auggie, the main character in the book. I immediately called Michelle’s mom and told her I would be sending the book home with Michelle and that I thought it would be a wonderful book for them to read together. The best part was that I was able to invite them to go meet the author with me at a book signing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois.
A few days before going to meet RJ Palacio, I sat with Michelle, her parents, and at least a dozen school professionals who work with Michelle in a meeting. There was a lull in the conversation and Michelle looked at me and said, “I love the book you gave me!” Of course, everyone wanted to know what book it was and what it was about. Out of all the people in the room, no one else had heard of or read Wonder. I don’t expect everyone to know every book out there, but imagine if I wasn’t in the Nerdy Book Club and if I hadn’t read Wonder. Would it have ever made it into Michelle’s hands?
Me, Michelle, and RJ Palacio at the book signing at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville
The book touched Michelle, her parents, and her sister. Her mom could not believe how expertly RJ Palacio wrote about the feelings and experiences of the characters in the book. It was powerful for them to read and recognize their own feelings in the story. Auggie’s story let’s readers have some insight into their lives. Being there to see Michelle and her family meet the author was inspiring for me. I am proud to know such an amazing family.
Me and Michelle with our signed copies of Wonder by RJ Palacio
The moral of this story is that it’s great to love books and to talk about books and to be in the Nerdy Book Club, but we have to do more than that. Go out there Nerdy Book Club members. Tell people what you are reading. Ask people what they are reading. Recommend books. Give books and tell people the book made you think of them. Let people see how awesome it is to be in Nerdy Book Club and don’t take no for an answer. There is a book for everyone.
Jen is a National Board Certified Teacher in early/middle childhood literacy and teaches students who are deaf and hard of hearing in the suburbs of Chicago. She tries to be kinder than necessary in everything she does.