Here is the second in the mini-series sharing Rachel’s blog….

Several weeks ago I was thinking about how to inspire the girls at My Refuge House to enjoy reading and utilize the small library we are gradually accumulating. I wanted to create a program for the girls that did not add pressure to the staff but would encourage reading, enhance reading comprehension, improve critical thinking, and promote English vocabulary. I came up with the idea to start a youth-led reading club headed by our two youth librarians.

I wanted this club to be safe and comfortable space for the girls to read and discuss various topics without being in a structured learning environment. I also wanted it to be something they enjoyed attending and not something they had to do. I wanted it to be special – the way reading is special to me. I spoke with our two librarians and they loved the idea of starting and leading a reading. They have managed to turn it into something more wonderful than I even imagined. Below are a few questions I asked them concerning the club and their beautiful responses.

What is the new book club?

This book club, Hope for Readers, inspires girls to go beyond their imagination through reading. It can be therapeutic for expressing and diverting negative thoughts and making them into positive ones. This club enthusiastically helps the girls to build new relationships and support systems in times of frustration, struggles, and, problems they encounter in their daily lives.

Why are you excited about it?

We are excited to help them reach out and love books, and inspire them to read and learn from them. Most of all, however, we are excited to bring them to a new world, a new dimension, and  help them see the beauty that lies ahead in every book they read.

What did you read for your first meeting?

Our first meeting with them was an unforgettable one. We read one of Maya Angelou’s poems entitled “Phenomenal Woman” and an exerpt from Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s “Half the Sky.” We did not just read to them, but we also translated every stanza and paragraph to our dialect to bring a more meaningful impact. We don’t want to just encourage reading, but to inspire them to understand and reflect deeper beauty in reading .

What were the girl’s responses?

We got many responses from the girls and it greatly amazed us that each of them listened attentively and shared their thoughts and opinions on the  topic. In every session we have with them it makes us more inspired and touched that they are uniquely remarkable.

What are you hoping for in the future?

We are hoping to inspire many girls to read books, and get to know more of each other through discussion and enjoying life together. Every moment counts for us. It will make a difference in each girl’s life and we will have a great time looking back at the wonderful memories created.

We are also creating a manual for the reading club so it can be replicated in the future and I have copied their notes from the first meeting here for anyone who is curious. These young women are brilliant. It’s okay to be jealous.

Topic: Women’s Month
Readings: “Phenomenal Woman” & “Half the sky”

  • We assigned pre-tasks to girls
  • We started with a prayer
  • First reading a poem by Maya Angelou
  • We translated every stanza with a meaningful idea corresponding with a bible VERSE; “I am fearfully and wonderfully made by god”
  • We had discussion and reaction about the poem and everyone volunteered to share their ideas, FEELINGS, OPINIONS and encouragement to each other
  • Snacks and then clean up
  • Second reading entitled “half the sky”, we passed the book so that everyone got the chance to read a paragraph
  • We had again a discussion and reaction with a following questions:
  • What did the girl in the book feel of her situation? and what did you also feel after reading?
    • one of the girls answered: “IF i were to put myself in her situation i would feel sad and there would be a lot of questions i would ASKED TO god especially if i don’t know the purpose for it, but the girl in the book was so brave to share her story and it inspired me to keep going in life and to know that “i am not alone”
    • Is there any hope in the girls life or situation?
      • One of them answered directly: “yes, there is. i have no doubt about it because i can see how she fought for freedom and believed that one day she would have it”.
  • We thank everyone for their cooperation and patience for helping this book club come to life.
  • Closing prayer
  • Everyone help cleaned the stuff we used for our club.