Shorewood High School librarian helps students create a student-run book club

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Shorewood librarian Amanda Workman
“Our students are doing so much reading with ‘free choice.’ It’s really more authentic reading.” - Amanda Workman

Story and photos by Mary Jo Heller

Amanda Workman, Librarian at Shorewood High School, (formerly from Parkwood) was asked by students at the beginning of this year to start a book club run by the students. Her answer? “Of course!”

The bigger question was where to procure multiple copies of any book.

When she conferenced with the English teachers, she again received a round of approval. Teachers assign a “whole class novel,” which is still valid, but they also wanted to do something different by supplementing that whole class book with smaller, community-based book clubs. 

However, the same question prevailed: where to find the funds.

Amanda noted that the new library system allows everyone to see what all Shoreline libraries are holding. They could borrow copies from other secondary schools, which still wasn’t enough. 

Enter the Shoreline Public Schools Foundation. Amanda sought and was awarded a grant, along with other monies, amounting to $900.

Anasimos Argaw, left, and Amiel Samson, right
Students searched, voted on, and chose six different titles of diverse authors, with diverse styles. 

“This project allows students to continue their own book club, while also helping to fund the new classroom initiatives.
"Students will have more buy-in with what they are reading in the classroom, will connect to stories from different perspectives, expand their view, and be given the opportunity to build a community of readers. 
"These books also bring more representation and reflect our community more accurately.” (Amanda Workman)

David White at desk, Payton Beam standing
Four copies of each title were purchased. Those, along with other Shoreline District copies, public library copies, and personal purchased copies, were enough for the small groups. 

“After two years of being apart, students wanted a chance to build a community of book lovers. They wanted the opportunity to read together and have a place for discussion. 

"Once the group came together they decided that they wanted more recent, popular books to read, as well as books from different perspectives than what they had been reading in the classroom.“ said Amanda.

The book club meets for forty minutes at noon with their lunch. About ten students arrive, although Amanda says it rotates according to what book is read. 

Song of Achilles, for example, is very popular. It was featured on BookTok (similar to TikToc, but for books.)

“The students have been brilliant with questions at book club. It is a beautiful new perception of reading,” Amanda says. "For example, the student asked the author of Hollow Kingdom to speak to them- and she did- over zoom!"
Now that volunteers are allowed back in the building, Amanda is thinking about having a possible book fair, capitalizing on the new book club zest for reading.


S Chitwood April 19, 2022 at 11:00 AM  

I applaud you, Amanda Workman! This is fantastic! Everyone benefits from reading.

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