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Draper Journal

Students yearn to read, share insight during Draper Park’s book club

Jun 15, 2020 10:30AM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

After a group of students read “Prisoner B-3087” as part of Draper Park Middle School’s book club, librarian Kylie Arbon asked them, “Could this happen today?”

One sixth-grader shared her insight.

“We’re still dealing with what happened during the Holocaust today,” Olivia Smith said. “And we still have inequality, not exactly the same, but still people are treated unfairly. I’d hope we learned and are more humane now.”

“Prisoner B-3087” tells the story of a Jewish boy who grew up to see his Polish neighborhood walled up, had his bar mitzvah in the rubble of a building’s basement, lost his immediate family in the Nazi roundups, survived famine, cattle car transportation, beatings and death marches to concentration camps and was freed by Americans six years later. 

“It’s based on a true story, and it gave us insight into the mind of prisoners and how people treated each other,” said Maggi Welliver, who has worked in both Crescent View’s and Draper Park’s middle school library for about 20 years. “They learned how some people who had little, the Czechs, gave them what they had, while the Nazi leaders in the camp treated them worse than animals.”

Olivia and other sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were given the book when their names were randomly selected from entering to attend the book club.

“It’s a good experience where we all read the same book and talked about it. ‘Prisoner B-3087’ taught me more about history, about the Holocaust, and how it was like,” she said.

Sixth-grader McKaylee Curtis also attended book club.

“I love to read; this title really sucked me into reading it,” she said. “I wanted to know more, and I couldn’t put it down. I liked how we shared and learned from each other’s opinions without anyone putting us down.”

McKaylee had signed up before to attend a book club, but this was the first time she was selected.

Arbon said that’s because more than 60 students enter each of the three or four book clubs per school year.

“It can be upward of 20 to 25 we turn away,” she said. “A large part is that kids hear about it from their friends and teachers promote it in their classes and they want to come get and read a book.”

The sessions, which are held by grade during different lunch periods, also include a catered lunch and prize drawings.

“We usually have a group of teachers who read the book and join in. This book club, we have more history teachers as they want to contribute to the discussion,” Arbon said.

The goal not only is to encourage students to read more genres, but also to get them into the library so they can check out books they may want to read for pleasure and not just for assignments, she said.

“English classes in seventh- and eighth-grade come in every other week to work on projects and assignments, usually book talks. Sixth-graders it’s less, maybe once a month. Our goal is to have students read more,” Arbon said, adding that students who participate in America’s Battle of the Books also come into the library more often, reading different genres of books on the reading list.

Displayed around the library are many of the book covers book club students have read, from “My Side of the Mountain” to “Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” from “Where the Red Fern Grows” to “Tangerine.” 

The book club formed from former Crescent View Middle School brown bag book club, formed by English teacher Jolene Jenkins and later coordinated by librarian Tim Rausch. It developed into the Viking Book Club at Draper Park Middle School under Welliver and former librarian Jim Wilson, who now oversees all media centers in the district. 

Arbon, who replaced Wilson at Draper Park Middle library a few years ago, said that other books like “Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story,” “I am Malala,” “Resistance,” and “Hoot” have been more recent reads.

“Maggi and I ask about what they like and dislike and what we all take away from the book,” Arbon said. “Kids usually jump in when we ask questions. It’s usually open-ended and kids bring insightful comments. It gives them an opportunity to explore and speak their mind. We always end up of running out of time.”