From the Office of the Future of Reading

Please join me in welcoming today’s guest blogger, Melissa Biehl. Melissa is a lover of reading and discussing books. She just finished her fifth year as librarian at Bellerive Elementary in St. Louis, Missouri. She was a 1st, 3rd and 4th grade teacher at Bellerive prior to finding her home in the library. When she isn’t reading or talking about books she is usually running. 

Summer Reading and Book Clubs
We just finished our school year today and there was so much running through my mind, but the most important thing about summer is there is so much more time to READ!  In one way I am very different from most of my friends who are teachers is that I prefer to read children’s books all summer long. I will sprinkle in an adult book here and there, but summer is when I can really try and catch up on the books that everyone has been tweeting about. The only thing missing with summer is the community of students.
I love to discuss books with my students so much that ten years ago I started a summer book club. At the time I was a 3rd grade teacher moving to 4th grade and five of my students were able to go with me. One day they came to me and said they were going to miss talking to me about books and I mentioned the idea to meet over the summer. Summer book club was born from this and is still going strong ten years later. I actually received a text on Mother’s Day from one of these founding members wishing me a happy Mother’s Day and asking if we could meet this summer for a book club. These students and I met for book clubs over the summer all through high school and now they just finished their first year of college. It makes my heart happy that these kids still value reading for pleasure and discussing their readings.
Founding book club members
After teaching 4th grade for five years and running the book club, I became the librarian at our school. I sometimes think my love for sparking the conversation about books is what led me to my dream job. Every summer I choose three Mark Twain award nominee books. This is an award here in Missouri where twelve books for 4th-6th graders are chosen by librarians. We have a large number of students each year who strive to read all twelve of these books and at the end of each year we have a big party to celebrate the accomplishment. The summer book club helps them to get a head start to reach this goal for the upcoming year and allows them to share their thoughts with other book lovers. We meet once a month at the county library for an hour to share our thoughts about the book. When we meet, not only do we talk about the chosen book, but we discuss any other good books we have read since our last meeting. Students who are not able to join us in person can use Edmodo online to discuss their thoughts.

Last summer book club meeting
Building a community of readers is an important job and summer is not a break for reading or talking about books for us! I cannot wait for our first meeting in just a few weeks!
Thank you Melissa for your passion for reading and for sharing it with your students!