Learning Center Book Club

Grant Date
Grant Applicant
Kathryn Markovchick
Grant Category
Grant Co-applicants
School Site
Amount Funded
Description (10 points)

I am a Special Education teacher at Truckee High School and I teach three 90 minute Learning Centers as well as coteach an English class in the spring. The past couple of years Truckee High School has set some strong academic goals to support school wide literacy with the purpose of helping the students not only understand rigorous academic text and literary terms, but also to support them in establishing a life full of literacy. In order to help my students explore a variety of texts and build a love for reading I started a book club with all of my learning center classes.  Every day for the first 15 minutes of class we read as a group from a novel that has been hand picked by me after working with the school Librarian and researching popular adolescent novels. At first when the program was rolled out my students fought me on the new "mandatory" reading time, however once they realized that we were purely going to read "non academic" texts for enjoyment and that I would read to them, they quickly became engaged. My daily conversation with the students quickly shifted from “do we have to read today” to "can we just read a little bit more." They have learned to LOVE this time spent as a group reading and often students that would never read out loud even when asked to by their teachers will now volunteer to read out loud to the group. I have other students who continue to read after the class has stopped reading, just because they want to find out what happens in the book.  Since last year was such an amazing experience for both myself and my students I have included Book Club into my daily routine this year. Book Club is something that I would like to see continue for years to come.

I have mapped out my next set of Book Club novels that I would like to read with my students this year. However, funds are very low and only a select few of the students in learning center can afford to buy their own copy. The school library and town library usually only have a copy or two of the specific novel my Book Club is reading.  Last year I ended up purchasing several books for my class out of pocket, unfortunately this is not something I can continue to do. Prior to school starting I put in a request through the Truckee Optimist Club so that I could have new novels ordered and ready to for the start of school. My request was granted and I was able to purchase 6 different novels (10 copies each) to help me obtain our Book Club goal of reading two novels a quarter. This is a very lofty and exciting goal, but it also means that I need to supply 8 to 10 copies of 24 different novels.

The great news is that the books never go to waste. There are three Resource Specialist teachers on site at Truckee High School. Once my three classes are finished with the novel, I then pass them off to the other learning center teachers. They read them with their Book Clubs and then give them back to me. The novels I am including in this grand request will be used for years to come.  Once the books have passed through the hands of 90 students and 6 to 9 different book clubs (depending on semester) they are then brought back to my room and placed in my reading nook. The reading nook is a corner of my room with bookcases filled with novels, comfortable seating, yoga mats, carpet and other items that encourage reading. This is an area that students can sit in and read when they are caught up on their work. Students are encouraged to explore all the different texts in the reading nook and check books out to read. Students that are not in my learning center often come into my room asking to borrow a book they know I have.  I mark what year we read the book as a class so that every 4 years I will be able to read the books again with my new learning center book clubs.

Benefits of Program (10 points)

The benefits of reading for pleasure are overwhelming positive. For students that are struggling with reading, have had bad experiences with reading and/or academics, or are from non reading households reading can be a big challenge.  Often times students in my learning centers are unaware that reading can be fun and that it does not always have to be academic.  Students are learning through book club reading can be an enjoyable lifelong activity and something that they can do on their own.

Below are some statistics that Truckee High School has used to let students, parents and community members know why school wide literacy is so important for a student.

What do the experts say about reading for pleasure and why it  is so critical for student to develop?

“Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education (IOE).

The IOE study, which is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in math, vocabulary and spelling…”

Multiple educational studies have shown us that the benefits of regular, free-choice reading are huge... and varied!

9 Reasons to read more:

  1. Builds Knowledge

  2. Improves Achievement

  3. Increases Motivation

  4. Increases Vocabulary

  5. Improves Writing

  6. Builds Background Knowledge

  7. Improves Understanding of Text Structures

  8. Develops Empathy

  9. Develops Personal Identity

Other Benefits include:

  1. Stress Reduction

  2. Reduction of Alzheimer’s in later years

  3. Increase in better sleep

  4. Greater connections with staff and peer

  5. Greater connections with staff and peers


Success of Program (10 points)


The data showing that the book club is working comes from Accelerated Reader quizzes that I give students at the end of the book to check for comprehension and understand. The lowest score in all of my book clubs last year was an 80! What is even more amazing is the conversation we have after reading a chapter and the requests to continue reading. We discuss empathy and the feelings we have towards the characters, our reactions and the characters reactions to situations throughout the text, different situations that came up and how we might deal with them, the conversations are free from and endless. This is all from a group of students that have deemed themselves "non readers" or readers that are well below grade level.

Implementation (10 points)

The learning center book clubs were implemented in my room last school year (16/17). The student feedback was so positive that the other two coapplicants and resource specialists decided to add book clubs to all of their learning centers this year.  The new novels being requested will be implemented into the Book Club circulation immediately. As soon as the novel each book club is currently reading is completed the new ones will begin. 

In four years the learning center Book Clubs could become sustainable, however with new novels and changing taste I think that new novels should be added to the circulation. I am going to continue to work with the school librarian, the coapplicants of this grant, as well as key literacy staff at THS on how to continue to place new novels in student's hands.
Can you share this grant with your grade level or subject team?

Yes, the novels purchased with this grant will be circulated between three different teachers/9 different classes, with a minimum of 75 students. Once books have been circulated among the above classes/students they are placed in Ms. Markovchick's reading nook for any student at THS to borrow and read. The books will also be recirculated through the learning center book clubs after 4 years (original book club readers graduate). 

Budget (10 points)
Budget Item(s)
$10 - Grit by Gillian French
$10 - Long Way Down by Jason Reynold
$10 - It's Kind of a Funny Story - by Ned Vizzini
$10 - The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater
$10 - All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
$10 - My Absolute Darling: A Novel by Gabriel Tallent
Amount Requested
Budget Notes

I am requesting books for the rest of the 2017/2018 school year. If requested grant amount is too large, I can cut some books out of my order, however the above book order will put novels in all of our book clubs through the end of the year. Also the price above reflects the latest market price on amazon.com. I have researched several book/media sites to find the best price. If the grant is approved I will again research book/media sights to make sure we are getting the best deal. 

Other funding sources

Truckee Optimist has funded one semester (fall semester) of book club books.