Keep Teens Reading

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June JDC: Into the Wild Print Email

Last week, we read Into the Wild with the teens at the JDC.  I was hesitant at first about bringing this book. Krakauer peppers his writing with words like “perambulation” that I was worried would keep kids at an arms distance and unable to delve into the book.  But, just like so many time in working with this group of teens, I was completely wrong.  They rocked this book.  They understood it, not just on the surface level, keeping track of the many flip flops in sequence, but on deeper levels as well.  They vigorously argued the case that Chis McCandless was not mentally ill or a fool, but really smart and willing to test his soul in ways most of us could never begin to think.  They thought that had he lived, he’d be president.  They did concede he was careless about his resources (Burning money! Ditching his car!  Not a good move.)  But they related to Chris’s journey both physical (hopping trains, sleeping outside) and spiritual (pushing away society to find out who they truly were.)


To start us thinking about the values inspired by Chris McCandless, we wrote down our “bucket lists.”  I shared mine: to teach my girls to sail, to practice yoga for more than 2 days straight, and they shared theirs: to get out of juvie, to be with my little sis, to build a house all by myself.


We read each day seminar style – sitting in a circle, close reading out loud with permission given to each person in the room to halt the reading if anything didn’t make sense or to make a comment.  I brought in my dog-eared Alaska atlas and taught them how to find the Stampede Trail and Healy and other spots Chris visited.  I also found, thanks to our terrific adult librarian, Lisa Gresham, a great book that was filled with the photos from Chris’s camera and journey. 


The last day we watched the movie.  They were excited about seeing Kristen Stewart.  Despite the great music from Eddie Vedder and amazing Alaskan tundra backdrop, I thought the movie too cinematic  and dragged for my taste. But they loved it. 


While we watched, we ate trail food: granola bars, cheese and crackers, fresh berries and a little chocolate to end our meal together.


Some of the comments we loved from the evals…

“This is one of the most touching, crazy, amazing books I have ever read.”

“Very exciting book that will pull the reader in and make you never want to turn away.”

“You never know what book your gonna need…and you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  After book club I just picked up whatever book and read it.”


--- Tamar Clarke with help from Aubri Keleman

The Lost Hero of Olympus Print Email
Thank you Rick Riordin for creating heroes that are funny, and really struggle with school and home life.  It felt like you wrote The Lost Hero of Olympus just for the teens at the Juvenile Detention Center.

It’s a long book to tackle in one week, but the teens responded with enthusiasm and almost all of them finished it.

Favorite comments from the teens this month:

“Book club got me more into books”

“Book club helped me get over my fear of reading out loud”

“I give this book 10 out of 4 stars”

One of them requested more read aloud time.

Karin had some great discussion prompts this week:

*If you could have any super power what would it be and how would you use it? Pull from Greek mythology, comic books, super heroes. etc.

*Which Greek God would you want for a parent and why?

*The characters are being challenged by going on this quest and with these new experiences. Describe a time when you were challenged and what you use for inspiration.

If you are celebrating this books with teens our suggested food pairing is

Leo’s Tacos or Leo's Tofu Burgers.

Next month: we had a request for non-fiction, so Tamar is bringing in Into the Wild.  Her Alaskan wilderness experience should make this book come alive in a whole new way.


Books+Food= A Party Print Email

Every month the Juvenile Detention Center book club ends with  a celebration which includes food.  Recently Kyla read Dark Life, an underwater adventure, with the students.  The snack she brought in consisted of (still warm) fish sticks, tartar sauce, gummy fish, and seaweed.  The laughter as she passed out the food was the perfect way to end that book.    

Lynden Noon Kiwanis funds our snacks for the whole year-a special thanks to them for helping us make book club a program in demand at the Juvenile Detention Center!

Looking for a way to share food and books with your teen?  Check out The Unofficial Recipes of the Hunger Games for a start. 

Let us know if you have a perfect book/food combination.-Aubri

Juvenile Detention Center Director Speaks Print Email

Incarcerated teens in Whatcom County know her as "Sully", the teacher who welcomes them to the JDC, weaving in some academic support during their stays. Suzanne's work and that of the JDC Book Club was highlighted April 19th at the Whatcom County Library Foundation's Branch Out Dinner.  The Foundation supports the JDC Book Club, a monthly event where WCLS staff read a book with a group of 6 JDC students.

In her speech, Suzanne reminded us all of the importance of celebrating the small steps in working with this population of kids.  Here is an excerpt from her presentation.    Enjoy! -- Tamar

So, what hope can we have for these students? Well, if we spend our time looking

for big turn-arounds, we’ll all burn out fast. In my profession working with youth

on the fringe, we learn to look for the small reward -- the youth who at first

declares he doesn’t read books, and then by the end of his month’s stay, is

checking out four books each library visit. The youth who comes in sullen and

silent, and after a week at our school, begins to open up and talk, and one day even

smile. The youth who actually follows up on a transition plan we’ve worked on and

when released heads over to BTC to find out about the GED program. We plant

seeds. Many, many, seeds. We water them with our kindness, our concern, and our

respect. We shine the light of school success on them. And sometime, somewhere,

maybe one of those seeds will sprout and begin to grow, and a whole new and

productive path will open for that youth. I believe the Library Foundation’s Book

Club plants these seeds as well.  -- Suzanne Harris



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