Our libraries usually play host to many activities and groups who use our spaces to meet and share conversations. From knitting groups, Lego Clubs and coffee mornings to evening author talks, poetry performances and reading groups. Of course, at the moment, such activities are paused due to social distancing but they will be back in the future.
In the meantime, Bev from Warwick Library thought this would be an ideal opportunity to shine a spotlight on Page Turners – a group for young people who meet monthly at Warwick Library.
Warwick Page Turners was formed over four years ago when we realised that those too old for ‘Chatterbooks’ needed a group of their own. Our ‘Chatterbooks’ group was aimed at 8-11 year olds and gave attendees the opportunity to talk books, do crafts and play fun book/reading-related games. As some of our members turned 11, and told us they still wanted to meet and do similar activities, Louisa, my trusty volunteer assistant, started to look at how we could take this age group forward.
As the format of the group had worked well, we decided to keep it very similar – we’d meet to talk books, share crafts and undertake other activities together. We decided on the name ‘Page Turners’ to differentiate the two groups and started to promote our sessions on a Saturday afternoon. Since that first meeting, the group has gone from strength to strength.
We currently have ten regulars, a mixture of young men and women, and we have others who drop in from time to time. Ages range from 12 to 16 years old and it is always great to see how the older members encourage the younger ones – it is not long before they have the confidence to join in the discussions without the need for encouragement.
As well as the love of reading, many of our group have a range of hobbies and interests which they happily share with us. Two or three of them are really into musical theatre and we love to hear their reviews from shows they have been to see. One of my favourite memories is the day two of the girls turned up slightly breathless, one in her dance outfit and the other in her football kit complete with mud! Of course we wanted a full run down of both the dance rehearsal and the football match.
We still have some of our founder members. This year, they should have been taking their GCSEs and we’ve really enjoyed following their progress through secondary school. It has been a pleasure to see how they and their reading choices have grown and developed.
We have welcomed new members from various schools across the district and while Page Turners is primarily a reading group, discussions often go off on a tangent. We have had some lively and often eye-opening (for myself and Louisa) discussions on various topical subjects and it is always interesting to see the different approaches taken to difficult subjects such as drugs and racism.
As the group has developed, Louisa and I have taken more of a back seat and let our group members come up with their own ideas of authors and genres they explore. Over the past year, Louisa has done a great job of entering the group into book review competitions and has managed to bag some great freebies. In return for reviews, groups such as Page Turners can win the chance to read upcoming releases (if you’re in a reading group, it’s worth having a look at the Reading Agency website for details of other competitions they run for both adults and young people).
Titles that we’ve been lucky enough to receive include ‘The Places I’ve Cried in Public‘ by Holly Bourne and ‘Wranglestone‘ by Darren Charleton, a brand new author who unfortunately did not get any rave reviews from our group. They all found the book disappointing, although they were constructive in their criticism.
At our last meeting we all went away with ‘On Midnight Beach’ by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, to review. Fitzpatrick’s latest novel is the re-imagining of an old Irish legend. I found it quite compelling but unfortunately due to Lockdown, we did not get to review it as a group. I’m looking forward to hearing what everyone else thought of it when we get to meet up again.
Most members of the group have also given their time freely to become ‘Reading Buddies’ during the Summer Reading Challenge over the years. During the summer, the annual Summer Reading Challenge for children aged 4-11 happens in our libraries. Most summers, children will borrow six books over the course of the holidays and when they return them, they will talk about what they have been reading with our ‘Buddies’.
This year, things have obviously been different as the Summer Reading Challenge is digital and due to social distancing, we haven’t had ‘Reading Buddies’ but library staff have always really appreciated the efforts of our young volunteers.
Our Page Turners are a wonderful, interesting, caring and diverse group of young people who I know will go on to do great things. I, for one, am missing our monthly meetings so it was good to hear from some of them recently about what they have been reading during Lockdown.
There’s been a variety of titles that have been keeping the group occupied and here are a few that we hope will inspire you (some accompanied by both the blurb about the book and the thoughts of our readers).
‘The Mole, The Boy, The Fox and The Horse’ by Charlie Mackesy
Enter the world of Charlie’s four characters and unlikely friends – the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse – discover their touching story, and their most poignant and universal life lessons.
‘The Fault In Our Stars’ by John Green
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
‘Toffee’ by Sarah Crossen (eBook & eAudio)
Allison is in danger at home. Her stepmother has run away and her father is getting worse. So she runs away too and with no where to live finds herself hiding out, miles from home, in an elderly woman’s shed. But this woman, Marla, has dementia and doesn’t recognise her as Allison, believing she is an old friend from her past called Toffee.
Thoughts from a Warwick Page Turner: “I found her writing style a little hard to get at first but I really enjoyed it and thought the plot was very original and interesting.”
‘Find Me’ by Andre Aciman (eBook)
This is the sequel to ‘Call Me By Your Name’ and revisits the characters, catching up with their lives and where the world has taken them. In ‘Find Me’, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, now a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train upends Sami’s visit and changes his life forever.
One of our Page Turners gave this a “very good” rating.
‘A Good Day For Climbing Trees’ by Jaco Jacobs
Sometimes, in the blink of an eye, you do something that changes your life forever. Like climbing into a tree with a strange girl. Marnus is tired of feeling invisible, living in the shadow of his two brothers. His older brother is good at breaking swimming records and girls’ hearts. His younger brother is already a crafty entrepreneur who has tricked him into doing the dishes all summer. But when a girl called Leila ends up on their doorstep one morning asking him to sign a petition, it’s the start of an unexpected adventure. And finally, Marnus gets the chance to be noticed.
Page Turner review: “Really good but I don’t think it ended in the right way.”
‘My Brother’s Name Is Jessica’ by John Boyne (eBook)
Luckily for Sam, his older brother, Jason, has always been there for him. Sam idolises Jason, who seems to have life sorted – he’s kind, popular, amazing at football, and girls are falling over themselves to date him.
But then one evening Jason calls his family together to tell them that he’s been struggling with a secret for a long time. A secret which quickly threatens to tear them all apart. Because what do you do when your brother says he’s not your brother at all? That he’s actually . . . your sister?
Our Page Turner’s thoughts: “Really good but I’m surprised I liked it because I don’t usually read this genre.”
Some of these titles you’ll find on BorrowBox, either in eAudio format or on eBook, while for others, you may be able to order them via our ‘Click & Collect’ service. Find out about that here and if you’re new to BorrowBox, have a read of our previous blog to find out how to get the most out of our collection.
We are slowly reinstating many of our services. It will be a while before we will be holding group activities in our libraries again but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep our reading discussions going. We’d love to hear about any titles you’ve been enjoying recently. You can add them in the comments of this post, or you could tweet us (@warkslibraries) or let us know on Facebook.