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Chat & Chew: Getting kids interested in talking about books

Starting on June 9, the Friday Memorial Library will host a new, unconventional book club twice a month for two different age groups. The group is called Chat & Chew and will be held at the library over lunch.

"We were looking for a way to get kids interested in discussing books. Basically, it is an unconventional book club, so kids aren't all reading the same book," said youth services librarian Jessica LePean. "We are just asking kids to bring in and talk about the book they are currently reading. They don't have to pick up a book they don't want to read and we don't have to find a book that everyone is going to like, because that is hard to do. It is a good way to get the kids talking and to help them get suggestions for other books to read."

Participants are being asked to bring a bag lunch and a book to share about during the session, which starts at noon. Dessert will be supplied by the library. There is no need to sign up for the group, just show up with your lunch and book.

"We thought doing it over lunch was a good time of day and was something we thought would get more people to join in because we can go outside and have lunch out there," LePean said.

There will be two sessions of Chat & Chew: a young adult group and a juvenile group.

"The age groups for the Chat & Chews are more of a suggestion. We'd like to have the kids attend whichever group they think they would be most comfortable in," LePean said. "In middle school, some students still enjoy reading stories of animals, fairy tales and friendships, while others begin to move on to stories of romance and dystopias. We have the two separate groups in hopes of allowing kids to share and find new stories that would interest them."

Suggested age groups for the two sessions are grades 3-6 for the juvenile group and grades 6-12 for the young adult group; however, LePean emphasises that the groupings are only suggestions, not absolutes. The book club will focus on chapter books for both groups.

"The younger kids read a lot of books about animals and younger topics. Whereas the teens are reading more difficult topics, so we wanted to make sure we split up the groups so that they were reading books about similar titles," LePean said. "It is just to make sure that the topics being discussed are appropriate for the kids involved. You don't want to be sharing high school topics with the second-graders."

There will be one session of Chat & Chew for each group a month. The young adult group will meet June 9, July 7 and Aug. 4. The juvenile group will meet June 23, July 21 and Aug. 18.

"We are just going to see how it goes and we are hoping there will be some kids who are interested in sharing what they are reading and getting suggestions from other kids," LePean said.

LePean also said she hopes to share titles and series at the different sessions, as well as to introduce the Battle of the Books titles when they are released.

"We are also looking at adding a special Chat & Chew which would be a more traditional book club in August with everyone reading and discussing the title, 'Hidden Figures' by Margot Lee Shetterly," LePean said. "This event would coincide with the opening of the historic Doar Trail."

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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