Reading has always been important to me. I have read ever since I can remember. I even wrote my own stories based on classic fairy tales – I somehow managed to modernise the endings. When I was 12, I based one of my stories on Grease for which I won an award from a newspaper. So, it doesn’t surprise me that, in my later years, I have found myself working for at Book Clubs In Schools.
I am working as the South West London Regional Manager. In this role, I travel around this part of London to visit schools and students and introduce them to the Book Club project. My job involves training the older children, from Years 9,10 and 12, to become Book Club Leaders. I have the students take part in a simulated book club, assigning them roles as the shy, distracted, know-it-all trouble maker Book Clubbers and we brainstorm together what to do in various situations, such as what happens if someone makes fun of another Book Clubber in your group, how do you get a distracted Book Clubber to pay attention and how do you get your book clubbers to really listen to one another. They have great fun with this exercise and I can see them thinking about what they would do in these different scenarios. We also go through a training manual and talk about the book they will use to lead the younger students.
I provide guidance for the Leaders concerning their role, but in reality, they run the book clubs themselves – and this is where I see these older students blossom. The leaders run the book clubs for younger students- either for Years 4-6 in primary school or Year 7s in secondary school. Many of the Book Club Leaders have never had this type of responsibility of facilitating a diverse group of younger students in a calm, supportive and encouraging way. I see them grow in confidence and maturity during each club they lead.
The Leaders are pretty nervous at the first book club meeting, but once the ice has been broken, the Book Club Leaders and Clubbers become great friends. I am working with one school where the leaders were really unsure of themselves at the beginning. They were asking me lots of questions, with fear in their eyes, as they didn’t know what to expect. The relationship they built with their Year 5 and 6 Book Clubbers was beautiful to watch, and this developed simply through reading, and interacting with one another. The primary school students were very excited as their leaders arrived and the leaders were full of enthusiasm. If I could bottle this enthusiasm, I would give it to everyone so they would have a chance to experience what I witnessed in these book clubs.
Alexia Yuill is the Book Clubs in Schools Regional Manager in Southwest London. To learn more about running book clubs in your school get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.