There’s very little for kids to do in the town of Bluefield, West Virginia. But once a week, eighteen students from different walks of life gather to talk about books.
Suzette Sims, the program services coordinator at the Craft Memorial Library, organized the book club a few years ago. It started with three middle school students and has since grown in size and friendship.
But the library doesn’t have money to buy books. When the book club had just three members, they could obtain books through interlibrary loan. Now, the program has grown and the book club needs almost twenty copies of books per week to keep it going – an almost impossible task.
Through First Book, Suzette can find enough copies of the books her students love to read. The students debate, learn and forge friendships.
“This is somewhere they can meet and see their friends once a week,” says Suzette. “It’s a mix of the groups. Some are friends, some didn’t know each other beforehand.”
Along with providing a safe and supportive environment, Suzette hopes to give her students the opportunity to discover their interests and passions.
“The more I can show them about different things – science, art, books – the more they’ll be able to figure out what they’re interested in and what they want to do,” explains Suzette. “I have a lot of hope for these kids. They have such a spark in them – if they want to, they can go anywhere.”