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SEMS to wage Battle of the Books
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South Effingham Middle School has started a book club for students. The club was the idea of a new teacher to the school Laura Cook.

Cook said she was involved in a Battle of the Books club when she was in sixth grade, and wanted to start something similar at SEMS.

“Battle of the Books is a national organization that picks 30 books every year,” Cook said. “In the spring there’s a quiz bowl.”

Cook said she thought it would be a good club for the students at SEMS.

“When I came here I saw a lot of the kids here love to read,” Cook said. “I’ve never had to take a book out of a kids hand during class before because they wanted to read, and weren’t paying attention because they were so into what they were reading.”

Cook said she has noticed a great participation in the accelerated reader program, and even has a student currently reading “War and Peace.”

“The kids will really strive,” Cook said. “They set these goals, and the kids are excited to meet them.”

The club recently had its first meeting. Cook said there were five students who came, and they have decided to currently have a book club, and as more students become involved transition to a Battle of the Books club.

“In the course of the discussion, we decided it would be better if we started off slowly, and we’re going to start like a regular book club where we’re going to pick a book a month, and then we’ll meet,” Cook said.

The first book they’ll read is “Nothing But the Truth.”

Cook said her goal for the club is to help students develop a love of reading in the students.

“I think sometimes reading is viewed as a stumbling block they have to overcome with all the high stakes testing they have,” she said. “We’re hoping this is a way for them to develop a love of reading while still developing those strategies and competency and develop a love for reading as a leisure activity.”

Cook said the Battle of the Books club she was involved in as a student helped her to develop a love of reading.

When she looked at the list of books, some of the books she read when she was in the club are still on the list.

“When I participated some of the books were older books, some were new,” Cook said. “Now there are the books that were old to me, the ones that were new and the books that are new to these guys.”

She said there were 30 books and each person in the club would have to read approximately 10 books and prepare to answer questions about those books.

“I remember some of those books are still my favorite books,” Cook said. “When my teaching changed from high school to middle school, I was really excited that maybe I’ll get to teach some of these books.”

Cook said the group will meet again in December, and the students have told her there are others interested.

“Really, I’d rather have five kids who really love it than have 50 kids where only five of them read the book and want to show up because it’s going to be a better experience for the kids,” she said.