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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Book Clubs turn to a new chapter

A break down of the history and dynamics of Bowie’s book clubs
AROUND+THE+TABLES%3A+Lit+Club+members+Katherine+Kuster%2C+Maddy+Shaw%2C+Clyde+Warren%2C+and+Addisyn+Simmons+listen+to+each+other+as+they+discuss+the+latest+novel+they+read+that+week.+Lit+Club+meets+every+Tuesday+after+school.+Since+their+establishment%2C+club+members+have+read+many+different+works%2C+ranging+from+Animal+Farm+by+George+Orwell+to+Kafka+on+the+Shore+by+Haruki+Murakami.
Asher Hagan
AROUND THE TABLES: Lit Club members Katherine Kuster, Maddy Shaw, Clyde Warren, and Addisyn Simmons listen to each other as they discuss the latest novel they read that week. Lit Club meets every Tuesday after school. Since their establishment, club members have read many different works, ranging from Animal Farm by George Orwell to Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.

As the final bell rings out on the PA, English teacher Judd Pfeffier waits for students to flood out of his classroom, only for more to come back in. Pfeffier is the sponsor of Bowie’s Literature Club and they meet in his classroom every Tuesday after school.

“I teach an elective called Literary Genres: Contemporary American Novel, and I had students in that class who were interested in forming this club,” Pfeffier said. “They asked me to be their sponsor and I was happy to do so. They are the kinds of students that enjoy reading on their own, and I have always loved teaching kids like that.”

The founders of the Literature Club include senior Madison Shaw and senior Katherine Kuster. Literature Club isn’t the only book club on campus, though; in total, Bowie has four groups that dedicate their time to the art of reading. Literature Club, Banned Books Club, Bowie Book Club, and Battle of the Books.

“Bowie Book Club is, as far as I know, the longest standing book club here on campus,” Bowie Book Club sponsor Chelsea McCaffery said. “Book Club has been here for maybe eight or ten years. Then, Banned Books Club was a district initiative, and Battle of the Books is a UIL competition. Lastly, Lit Club started about two years ago.”

Though they tend to focus on different aspects of reading, the book clubs do have some things in common. All of the clubs have suggestive deadlines to ensure members have read the same amount by their next meeting. According to senior Clyde Warren, Lit Club reads a book about every two weeks.

I try to think of reading less as something I have to do, and instead as something that I get to do.

— Clyde Warren, Senior, Lit Club Member

“It can definitely be stressful to read an entire book in two weeks, but I try to think about reading less as something that I have to do, and instead as something that I get to do,” Warren said. “So, if I ever end up swamped with work and I can’t read the book, I just drop it and move on because I know the club won’t care if I fall behind on the reading. We get busy sometimes, it happens.”

Unlike Lit and Book Club, Banned Books Club was formed as a result of a district-wide initiative last year, in response to the wave of new legislation banning various books across America.

“I love the deep discussions we have about the novels we read and how they connect to society as a whole,” senior Georgia Schmit said. “I am the co-president of the Banned Books Club and am really proud of what we’ve done in Banned Books and the awareness we continue to spread about this important topic. We also partner with a local bookstore, Black Pearl Books, who gives us free copies of our books, which is awesome.”

Banned Books Club aims to not only spread awareness about nation and state-wide book bans but also get its members talking about why these books may be banned. Banned Books Club is not the only book club where students obtain educational value from their meetings.

“Our members’ conversations are incredibly insightful,” Pfeffier said. “I do think their ability to analyze complex works of literature is improving because of these conversations. For those students who are in Advanced Placement Literature (AP Lit), it helps with those classes because they are practicing analyzing complex works. I also think it’s preparing them for a college setting, where they read and then discuss books.”

The fourth club on campus is the Battle of the Books Club. Battle of the Books is a UIL event, where students from various schools in the area challenge each other on their knowledge of a few select books.

For a lot of students, when they’re in school, they don’t get a lot of choice in what they read, which is why Book Club is so great.

— Chelsea McCaffery, English teacher, Book Club sponsor

“We are given ten books sometime in the first semester that we have to read,” senior Saffron Hartreeves said. “You don’t have to read all of them, but you should probably read about seven or eight of them. Then, we go to a school and compete against other schools from the area about our knowledge of the books. We do activities like trivia for Jeopardy-style contests, it’s really fun.”

According to Scholastic’s latest biannual Kids and Family Reading Report, 70% of children aged six to eight read books for enjoyment, whereas only 46% of teens 12-17 read for enjoyment. Some people attribute this change to the differences in reading levels among various grade levels.

“For a lot of students, when they’re in school, they don’t get a lot of choice in what they read, which is why Book Club is so great,” McCaffery said. “Book Club is a really great opportunity for them to talk to like-minded folks that really enjoy reading like they do.”

Book Club has passed through the sponsorship of many different teachers in its tenure. The club was handed to McCaffrey five years ago by English teacher Kimberly Weidmeyer. Unlike the Bowie Book Club, Lit Club was only created recently.

“I know with Lit Club, they wanted to read different books than what the other clubs were reading,” Pfeffier said. “They want to focus on studying the classics. They started the Lit Club to focus on books that they were interested in reading.”

Despite the various goals and histories of the four different book clubs, they all come from the same root: the student body’s love for reading.

“Being a part of this club is definitely worth the time it takes to read an entire book in two weeks, but also just the experience of reading a book that I otherwise wouldn’t have chosen,” Warren said. “There have been plenty of books that we’ve read where I know for a fact that I would have never picked it up had I not been in the club and I ended up loving it.”

One common appeal of any club is meeting a group of people who share a common interest as you. This sense of community is another thing that connects the clubs together.

“I joined Book Club my freshman year through Zoom,” senior Book Club president Olivia Devore said. “I joined this group because it’s been around forever, and I was really bored and looking for something to do with new people. I stayed with the club because I think finding a community of people that share your interests, and being able to talk about something you love doing, is really amazing.”

Recommendations from club members
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