Summit County Library book club connects teens
Students in grades seven through 12 can join
Teens in Summit County looking for some book recommendations, or even just to spend time with some like-minded students, have a new place to hang out.
In the fall, the Summit County Library started the “Read It & Reap Book Club” for students throughout the county in grades seven through 12. The club, which meets on the fourth Monday of each month, explores books in various genres, offering students the chance to push out of their literary comfort zones and try something new.
“It helps them learn different concepts and gives them different perspectives,” said Shaylee Phelps, outreach services librarian for the Summit County Library. “And it gives them a different experience than video games or garbage TV or YouTube and anything like that. It helps them think about things in a different way and is hopefully thought-provoking.”
Phelps said the library started the club after encouragement from its teen advisory board, which had long been clamoring for one. But with students spread throughout the far reaches of the county, it took some creativity to make the club accessible to everyone. Rather than requiring teens from Coalville and Kamas to drive to the Kimball Junction Branch, for instance, the library uses video chat at its three branches to connect the students at each meeting.
“We wanted to make it countywide because we’re the Summit County Library with three branches,” Phelps said. “But we didn’t want to make the kids have to travel to one spot. Even if we only get two kids at each of the branches, that’s still six kids. That’s a pretty good discussion group.”
Kristen Nilsson, a youth services librarian, said the club has been heartening because engaging young readers is one of the library’s top priorities. She encourages any teen interested in books to join.
“First of all, it’s fun for them to get together and talk about books outside of school that they haven’t been assigned, which they’re usually a lot more enthusiastic about,” she said. “And it’s fun to be with people of your own age and have that social time. I love that they are reading.”
In June, the library plans to make an important tweak to the club, however. Rather than having students all read the same book, they will be allowed to choose their own book each month within certain themes, ranging from love to magical creatures, Phelps said. Then, at the monthly meeting, they’ll participate in crafts and other activities related to the theme, which Phelps hopes will inspire a more informal discussion of books that will entice even more students to join the club.
“It won’t be so much like a sit-down discussion,” she said. “What we’ve found is teens just want to hang out and be with other teens. They don’t necessarily want that deep, thought-provoking discussion like adults seek when they join a book club. We figure that, if we do crafts, they’ll have something to do that’s a little more fun, then they can each discuss the books they read. So maybe it will be like, ‘Oh, that sounds great. I want to read that book now.’ It will be them learning from other teens.”
More information about the club can be found at the library’s website, thesummitcountylibrary.org. The next meeting is scheduled for April 24 at 6 p.m. at any of the branches in the county. This month’s book is “Between Shades of Gray” by Ruta Sepetys.
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