Riverview Book Club turns five years old

Nathan Liewicki
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Jenn Wiens, a high school learning consultant for the Prairie South School Division, waits for a response from a question during a game of literary Jeopardy with students of Riverview Collegiate's book club Wednesday evening.

Importance of literacy emphasized in casual setting

What do The Help, The Kite Runner and The Fault in Our Stars have in common?

They have all been made into, or are soon to be released as, major motion pictures. More importantly, they have all been books read by Riverview Collegiate’s Book Club.

The club, which started with the reading of Ruth Minsky Sender’s The Cage, celebrated its fifth anniversary Wednesday evening in the school’s library with pop, pizza and discussion of The Fault in Our Stars – the 23rd book the book club has read.

James Irving, a teacher at Riverview, started the club. He credited his previous experience at Estevan Comprehensive School as the reason for starting the book club, even though he admitted to never having attended one of its meetings.

“Moose Jaw is a hub for writing and literacy, so I thought it might be a good fit at Riverview,” said Irving.

On average, Irving noted anywhere between six and 12 students have come out to book club discussions over the past five years, but it has continued to grow.

“What we do now is we are always reinventing ourselves,” he said. “The toughest thing, I think, is finding those all-encompassing books that go across the board and gets everybody interested in reading and wanting to engage.”

On Wednesday, Jenn Wiens, a high school learning co-ordinator for the Prairie South School Division and a former teacher at Riverview, attended the book club for the first time. She kicked off the night by taking on Alex Trebek’s role as the host of a Jeopardy style game featuring questions from The Fault in Our Stars.

Wiens emphasized the importance of reading.

“Literacy is important because it affects all domains of your life,” she said. “Students who read are more successful in school, achieve more things and their outcomes in life are stronger.”

Although Wiens made her maiden appearance at Riverview’s book club Wednesday night, she noted more schools could benefit from starting them.

“This book club has a lot of the same members and it was really fun, so obviously there is a benefit to them,” said Wiens. “They enjoy each other's company and I think other schools can easily implement book clubs, whether they meet once a year, once a month, or whenever they have time.”

One of the students whose engagement in book club has increased in the three years she has been attending is Caitlin Betker.

The Grade 11 student told the Times-Herald she has only missed one book club in three years, and is always at the centre of the discussions.

“I have an opinion and it needs to be heard. I really like reading and I like the discussion that we get to have,” said Betker. “Even if there aren’t a lot of people that attend I really like the discussion.”

Betker added that over the past few months she has read five or six books, after reading only one or two during her Grade 10 year.

“Lately I've been reading a lot more books and getting into the swing of reading again,” said Betker.

The anniversary book club gathering was pushed back a couple of weeks so that it fell in line with Reading Town Canada’s events in the Friendly City.

Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks

Organizations: The Fault, Riverview Book Club, Estevan Comprehensive School Prairie South School Division Times-Herald Reading Town Canada

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Friendly

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