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Library Hosts Children’s Book Club

Monthly meetings allow children to discuss variety of books.

Members of the Great Falls Library Children’s Book Club discuss Roald Dahl’s autobiography, "Boy," during their meeting Monday, Jan. 28.

Members of the Great Falls Library Children’s Book Club discuss Roald Dahl’s autobiography, "Boy," during their meeting Monday, Jan. 28. Photo by Alex McVeigh.

— Some of the youngest library patrons in Great Falls are coming together monthly to discuss children’s books as part of the library’s Children’s Book Club.

Originally two clubs were started, one for boys and one for girls, but a fortunate miscommunication led to a joining of the groups.

“There are so many great books out there, and kids love to read stuff over and over again.”

-- Michele Miller, a parent volunteer

"We got the time mixed up one week, and everyone showed up at the same time, and we had a great discussion, so we decided to combine them," said Michele Miller, a parent volunteer who helps run the group. "Since then, we try and alternate books that have boy and girl main characters."

Miller, who has a degree in library sciences and children’s librarian Sharon Harmon, run the club. Miller picks most of the books, and she tries to choose books that mostly fall outside of the classic children’s canon.

"We’ve done a few Newbery Medal winners, such as ‘From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,’ and some serious books, but we try to mix them in with lighter, funnier stuff as well," Harmon said.

Most of the books are before the 1990s, but it’s not a rule for the club. Miller brings in background materials on the authors to help enrich the discussion. The books are generally meant for ages 9 to 12, but students of all abilities have attended.

"We have kids of varying reading abilities come through, but regardless of their level, this gets them thinking about books they read, and gives them goals," Miller said. "We had one boy come to an early meeting, his family is Russian and they just moved from Japan, and he had no idea what a book club was. We didn’t know if we would see him again after the first meeting, but he’s been back to a lot of them."

Miller says reading the book isn’t mandatory to attend club meetings.

"We don’t want kids to think of it as another kind of homework, if they have the time to finish the book, that’s great, but they can also read some of it and come in and discuss," she said. "And if they start the book and hate it 50 pages in, then that’s a legitimate topic for the club."

The club discussed Roald Dahl’s autobiography, "Boy," at their most recent meeting on Monday, Jan. 28.

"We had gotten a few requests for an autobiography to fulfill some students’ reading requirements, and this created a good discussion that led into Roald Dahl’s other books," Harmon said.

"There are so many great books out there, and kids love to read stuff over and over again," Miller said. "There’s a lot of distractions out there that involve staring at a screen, but it’s always important to get an appreciation for sitting down and reading an old-fashioned book."

The club’s next meeting will be Monday, Feb. 25, at 4 p.m. at the Great Falls Library, and the book will be "A Lion to Guard Us" by Clyde Robert Bulla. For more information on the club, contact Harmon at sharon.harmon@fairfaxcounty.gov.