Library book talks are big hit with middle-schoolers

‘Opens up another entire world’

KDL youth paraprofessional Claire O’Tsuji always comes with new books in hand

Valleywood Middle School students noshed on pizza and sipped milk while listening to synopses of popular teen reads, which they would later have the chance to check out.

Kent District Library is a proud sponsor of SNN
Kent District Library is a proud sponsor of SNN

While they sat back and listened during the monthly Literary Lunch in the school’s Collaboration Center, Kent District Library employee Claire O’Tsuji presented on “How Train Your Dragon,” by Cressida Cowell.

“Hiccup is the smallest viking on the island, and his dad is the strong bearded muscle-y viking, and really wants Hiccup to grow up and become a big, strong viking like himself,” O’Tsuji said. “But Hiccup is Hiccup, and they have to find and train a dragon.”

Seventh-grader Elizabeth King has a slice while learning about books

The Gaines Township Branch youth paraprofessional also presented on “Moo” by Sharon-Creech and “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds. Literary Lunch, a partnership with KDL, has drawn students in for books sessions during lunch for the past two years so they can learn about titles and check them out.

“I usually bring a lot of new books and graphic books, ones that the schools don’t have readily accessible in big volumes,” she said. “It gives students a break from the school day, and if I can introduce new and exciting books that might not be what they usually read… it’s always a strong way to create good readers.”

Seventh-grader Byron Buter chooses two new KDL books to check out

She also does a 10-minute read-aloud and has encouraged students to sign up for library cards, which nearly all students now have, thanks to the library partnership.

“I can only stock so many books, so it opens up another entire world of availability that I can necessarily provide,” added Dani Rieker, Valleywood  media clerk. “Being able to partner with KDL has been fantastic.”

Seventh-grader Byron Buter settled down to read from KDL books he was checking out. “We get to pick from a whole bunch of different books and hope we find something that’s interesting,” he said.

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio

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