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Third graders crack the book on imagination

Greenwood Elementary School third graders, from lower right, going clockwise: Emily Odegard, Lily Mason, Emma Creen, Chloe Grenzow, Lily Schartau, and Olivia Usgaard, have been meeting at Dish and the Spoon Café to discuss books they are reading as part of a self-initiated book club. <i>Submitted photo</i>

"Pippi Longstocking," "Little House on the Prairie," and "Because of Winn Dixie" are the latest reads for a local book club started by a group of Greenwood Elementary School third graders -- Emily Odegard, Lily Mason, Emma Creen, Chloe Grenzow, Lily Schartau, and Olivia Usgaard.

Started by Emily, the book club held its first meeting in January.

When asked why she started a book club, Emily said, "I wanted to share good books with my friends and get together to talk about them."

Her mom, Teri Odegard, points out that "while Emily initiated the start of the club, all the girls have really been a team in keeping it going and making it fun."

"They encourage each other and lift each other up," she added.

Emily said that planning for the club started last fall. School librarian Judy Lefeber helped gather enough copies of the books for each member to read.

At book club meetings, Emily said that "...the person who chose the book, brings the discussion questions for that story."

She added that each member of the book club gets a chance to choose the book the club reads. They are thinking about reading "Ramona the Pest" in the future. The current read is "Judy Moody Saves the World."

Teri said that parents have given suggestions of what to read but have trusted the girls in selecting the books the club reads.

"So far, all the books they have chosen have been titles that we have read and been excited for them to experience," she said.

Every six weeks the club meets at the Dish and the Spoon Café to discuss its latest book.

Emily said, "We have one hour at the coffee shop to discuss the book. We usually spend about 40 minutes on the questions, and then have time to hang out together."

She said they talk about "15 or 20 discussion questions" and maybe do a project.

"For the Pippi book we had to draw our dream house. For Little House on the Prairie we talked about something special we would put over the fireplace like Ma did with her china doll. In Winn Dixie we drew pictures of Winn Dixie," said Emily.

She added, "It's a lot of fun!"

During the meetings the parents take a hands-off approach, "...they (the book club) position themselves at a table in the back and work through the questions as a team. The parents sit at the other end of the coffee shop and have a chance to get to know each other a little better too."

She added, "We check on them once in a while, and they are always on task with their discussion questions and having a great time in the process."

While they have let the girls lead the book club, Teri says that each of the families enjoys reading to their children.

She says, "I think that because we enjoy reading, they see how much fun a good story can be and they want to read too."

When asked which book so far has been her favorite, Emily said that she liked "...Because of Winn Dixie because the dog helps to reunite the town. The story had good morals."

Emily hopes to continue meeting with the other members of her book club throughout summer because, she says, "It is very fun!"

Jillian Dexheimer
Jillian Dexheimer has been a copy editor and reporter for the River Falls Journal since 2011. She previously worked for the River Falls Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. Dexheimer holds a sociology degree from UW-River Falls.
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