Girl Scouts, 13, launch book club for kids
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Saturday, Nov. 02, 2013

Girl Scouts, 13, launch book club for kids

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- MARY CANROBERT
Virginia Tanner, left, and Amelia Hawn, right, created a book club for young people in sixth through eighth grades.
  • Want to go? If you’re a sixth-, seventh- or eighth-grader, read “The Monster Calls,” and then join Amelia and Virginia from 6 to 8 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month, November through February, at the Catawba Science Center aquarium building, 243 Third Ave. N.E., Hickory. There will be refreshments and adult supervision. Membership is free. To register or for more information, contact Lisa Neal at 828-304-0500. Want to help? Amelia and Virginia are accepting donations to buy refreshments for each book club meeting. If you’d like to contribute, call Lisa Neal at 828-304-0500.

Amelia Hawn and Virginia Tanner, both 13, are members of Girl Scout Troop 2229, which meets at Corinth Reformed Church in Hickory.

They’ve been in Scouting since kindergarten and have earned copious badges and honors, including the Bronze Award. Now they’re working to attain the Silver Award, the second-highest award in Girl Scouts. They’ll go for the Gold when they’re in high school.

Attaining each medal – Bronze, Silver, and Gold – requires planning and executing a project that benefits others.

Amelia and Virginia, working with other Girl Scouts, wrote, produced, and acted in an anti-bullying play, which they presented to younger Scouts, parents and siblings. They also wrote and published an anti-bullying brochure. For their efforts, Amelia, Virginia, and their fellow troop members received the Bronze Award.

To earn Silver, the girls are working as a pair to encourage young people to read a variety of literary genres by participating in Amelia’s and Virginia’s monthly book club for youths in grades 6 to 8.

“Both of us really love books and reading,” said Amelia.

The girls call their club The Title Wave Book Club. With the blessing and support of Lisa Neal, head of youth services at Patrick Beaver Memorial Library, and all the library staff, Amelia and Virginia held their first meeting Sept. 17 on the library lawn. Ten middle-schoolers showed up.

The girls had advertised by making and distributing bookmarks to several middle schools and the library. Amelia is an eighth-grader at Arndt Middle in Hickory; Virginia’s in eighth grade at Northview Middle, also in Hickory.

Realizing the students would come to the first meeting having not read a common book, the girls prepared a lesson around “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein and “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon. The group read the children’s books aloud and then commenced the conversation.

“No one really raised their hand to read a page or two (of ‘The Giving Tree’), but with ‘Stellaluna,’ they got more comfortable, and people raised their hand to read,” said Amelia.

Participants enjoyed what Virginia called “a light dinner” of pizza and flavored water, which the girls provided. They voted on the book they would read before the October meeting. The winner was Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning.”

The girls had created a list of books based on their desire to include a variety of genres and on the titles’ availability at the public library and local school libraries.

The Oct. 15 meeting was at the Catawba Science Center. Seven middle-school students attended.

“We’ve had a variety of different schools that have been coming,” said Virginia.

The girls were pleasantly surprised that nearly half the club members are boys.

“They’re the major discussion leaders,” Virginia pointed out.

The pair reported that all but one person had read the book.

“I’ve been sending emails to remind them to be reading and to inform them when the next meeting is,” said Virginia.

To keep the two-hour October gathering moving smoothly, Amelia and Virginia had prepared activities related to the Lemony Snicket book. One was a quick view of some clips from the 2004 movie, “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

The group voted to read Patrick Ness’ “A Monster Calls” for the November meeting.

It’s taken a big chunk of courage to stand in front of a group of middle-school kids and be their leaders, but Amelia and Virginia have found it to be fun as well as hard work.

“It’s stressful figuring out the questions – the planning,” admitted Virginia.

But, said Amelia, “(The kids who attend) are fun to talk to, and we have the common interest of reading.”

The girls said the library staff has helped them in many ways, including having a staff member present at each club meeting.

“Ms. Neal helped us a lot in the beginning,” said Virginia.

“They’ve done a terrific job,” said Lisa Neal. “I’ve been very impressed.”

Amelia’s parents are Kim Stinson and Phil Hawn of Hickory. She has one sibling, 8-year-old Ella.

“I think Amelia loves reading because she had good teachers as well as seeing her parents modeling being avid readers. And, she found good literature that sparked her imagination,” said Kim Stinson.

Rebecca and Chris Tanner of Hickory are Virginia’s parents. She has a brother, Will, who’s 15.

“Will enjoys reading books about the military,” said Rebecca Tanner. “Her dad enjoys reading historical fiction. I love to read anything about the South.”

“I’m glad we did it,” Amelia said about the book club.

“I feel accomplished at the end of the meetings,” Virginia said.

Mary Canrobert is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Mary? Email her at marycanrobert@charter.net.

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