Debbie Dehart's Posts (8)

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Hi all,

I'm on the board of the ECLA (Evangelical Church Library Association) and we are hosting an IN-PERSON conference on October 8!  It will be in Wheaton, IL and we invite you to come, and bring some friends!  While of special interest to librarians, it would be interesting and fun for anyone who loves to read and hear from authors.  There will be a used-book exchange (if you bring some books, you can take books home with you) as well as book-giveaways for all attendees.  Below is some information about the speakers, and you can also go to the ECLA website for more information and to register.  

Let me know if you have any questions!



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In Broken Places by Michèle Phoenix

I recently discovered this author and have loved reading her books.  She was an MK and TCK and many of her experiences of growing up overseas, as well as living there as an adult, are reflected in her writing.  This particular book is about a single woman who has been left guardianship of a young child, and for reasons which become clear as the novel progresses, decides to move to Germany and teach at a missionary school. As she raises the little girl she thinks back often to the abuse she suffered herself and learns what it means to have hope for the future.

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Growing in Faith 2020 Reading Challenge

We do a summer reading program each year, and also usually an adult reading challenge for adults during the winter months.  It's usually 7 weeks or so, with the goal to read as many of the 16 genres we put on a bookmark as possible and we give prizes to those who read the most.


This year we're changing it a bit - it will last all year, and the goal is not so much to read the most (although we think we might give prizes) but to plan for spiritual growth and read books all year to accomplish it.


So every three months we will release a new bookmark with 16 different genres/categories - most of them non-fiction, but we've also sprinkled in fiction here and there (in our newsletter article describing the program, we talk about looking for spiritual growth in fiction).  We also include things like "read a children's biography" or "read a Young Adult non-fiction book".Some are pretty specific: "read a book about Missions".  "Read a book about Prayer".


We haven't officially begun sign-ups yet and I've already had two people respond to the message I put on our church facebook page; people who don't usually participate in our reading challenges.  This is so encouraging! And actually, it's also what we thought might happen - that we'd reach a whole different group of people with this particular program.


When we have our bookmarks printed I'll post a picture of the first one.

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Forty Years And Growing

Our church library was started, I believe, about 40 years ago.  At the time it consisted of just a few shelves.  About 36 years ago, it was taken over by a dedicated lady in our church who grew the library to thousands of items and a good circulation.  When a new sanctuary was built, she was able to have a space for the library added right near one of the exits, just steps away from the sanctuary and that visibility has been such a boon for us.


Six and a half years ago, I was able to join the committee formed by my friend who took over the library, and now the two of us run it together, along with the help of about eight other invaluable committee members.  During those years, we have made many changes: weeding, re-organizing, taking down walls to create a more open space, painting walls, purchasing book-related artwork, utilizing a new cataloging system which better meets our needs, and so much more.


For a while we conducted pre-school story times during Sunday school or Church Time; we've run a summer reading program every summer since we started this venture; we've also sponsored adult reading challenges during the winter; we started producing a monthly newsletter in the fall of 2016. Our library is used by a good proportion of the congregation and there are plenty of people who come in every single week.  Circulation numbers are good and we believe we are meeting needs and encouraging our members.  We also have good support from our pastors, which we do not take for granted!


Our church bulletin states that our church's purpose is "Developing fully devoted followers of Christ".  Our library has adapted that statement for our own newsletters: as a part of our church's goal, ours is "Equipping fully devoted followers of Christ".  We try to keep that goal in mind in everything we do.

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Book Clubs

Here is a article I wrote from our current church library newsletter.


Book Clubs


Many people who love to read also love to discuss the books they’ve read with others.  It’s even better if this discussion takes place with someone else who read the same book; and while it is especially fun if you both loved the book, there is also something to be said for a conversation between two people who had opposite opinions!   Discussing the books we read helps us to think more deeply about them and to pinpoint what it is we like or dislike about them. Hearing the opinions of others can help us to see the book from a different perspective, which often provides insights and comprehension we might not have had on our own.


Such conversations can, of course, take place on an occasional, limited basis but for those who want this to be a regular part of their reading lives, a book club is the answer.  There are many different kinds of book clubs and different ways of running them, limited only by the desires and ideas of those who attend them. Here are some thoughts to get you started!


First, consider what the format of your book club will be.  Do you just want to talk to others about books you read? Do you want everyone to read the same book? Do you want to have regular meals as a part of your club? I read of one club that always included a meal set in the time in which the book they were discussing took place!  This may be overwhelming for every meeting -- it is to me -- but it could be fun to do it once in a while.


How large do you want your club to be? Keep in mind that it is not uncommon for one or more people to miss a meeting, so if it is important to you  to always have at least four people in attendance, you will probably want to make sure you have six or eight people who are regulars. Also, sometimes a larger group will mean that some people will not speak up much, especially if there are dominant personalities among the members. You may want to cap your club at no more than a certain number of members.  Consider too if your group will be men only, women only, or both.


What kinds of books do you want to read?  Some clubs are for one genre only, for example a Mystery Book Club, or only best-sellers, or fiction only;  others read a wide variety of books. And along with that, how will your club choose what to read? There are, of course, many books and websites that can help with this.  Gladys Hunt has written a helpful book called Honey for a Woman’s Heart, which contains many recommendations of quality books.


How often and where will you meet?  You can set parameters for this or you can start off with a loose idea and see how the club develops.  The book club of which I am a member began by meeting every couple of months, but as time went on, we became more enthusiastic about our meetings and started increasing them to about ten per year.  You will also want to decide for how long your book club will run - do you want to commit for just for a few months, a year, or longer?


For those with children, a Mother-Daughter or Father-Son book club is an interesting idea.  Summer would be a good time to do this, because it is a more unstructured and less pressured time. There are a number of books which give suggestions for good books to read (for example Honey For a Child’s Heart and Honey For a Teen’s Heart, both  by Gladys Hunt; also Who Then Should We Read by Jan Bloom and Books That Build Character by William Kilpatrick). . These can be good resources in finding materials. Or a mom or dad could oversee a kids’ book club, choosing titles, leading discussions, and creating activities related to what they group read.  The Kids’ Book Club Book by Judy Gelman is a good resource here. It contains helps to get a club going, along with discussions, activities and questions for fifty different books (this is not a Christian-based book so you might not find all the recommended titles to be acceptable).


Next,  how will you discuss the book?  These days, many books have ready-made discussion guides included in them, or they can be found on-line.  It is also possible to find generic discussion questions which can be applied, with some limitations, of course, to any book, or you can go with the “So, what did you all think?” approach and see what kind of discussion ensues!  I have found it helpful, as I’m reading a book, to take a few notes or mark some pages that I want to talk about when we have our meeting. You will also want to agree on whether a member is required to have finished the book in order to come to the meeting, although I don’t recommend this.  Every now and then, you’ll get a book which no one really likes and only one or two people actually finish reading; however, it is still worth talking about why members didn’t like it and weren’t able to finish it.


I have had the joy and delight to be in a book club for five years now.  It was started by a friend who just threw out an invitation on facebook (a great way to find club members).  Some members have come and gone over the years but there is a core of people who have been there from the start, and the history of books we have read and discussions we have had keeps us connected and committed.  We meet in the homes of various members. We spend part of our last meeting of each year deciding on our book list for the following year. It generally includes books suggested by members of the club: books they’ve been wanting to read, or have heard recommended by a friend, or the occasional best-seller.  We include a variety of genres: for example, each year we read at least one classic and we have also included poetry, plays, biographies, children’s books, non-fiction, short stories and more. Most of the time we read the same book, but at least once a year, we will each read something different within a genre, for example, “read a biography of your choice” or “read a mystery of your choice”.  


I have read stories about unpleasant book club experiences and have wondered what makes ours work so well.  I think it has to do largely with the fact that the members are all willing to try something they don’t love, are open to suggestions from others,  are interested in learning from each other and just plain love books! I would encourage you to consider starting one yourself, maybe even this summer!

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Winter Reading Challenge

At our church we're doing a Reading Challenge for adults - we're handing out bookmarks with sixteen categories of books, and participants have from Jan. 31-March 6 to read as many as they can (or want to! it's supposed to be fun, not pressure). We will give out coupons for signing up and for every book they read, and if we have some real over-achievers, we'll decide towards the end of February what kinds of other prizes we'll give out.

Here are our 16 categories...

A biography about someone you admire
A biography about someone you do not know
A book with a one-word title
A mystery or suspense novel
A non-fiction title of interest to you
A book by an author who is new to you
A book based entirely on the cover
A book by an author who shares your last initial
The first book in a series
A historical fiction novel
A book with a season in the title
A classic
A fantasy
A book considered Biblical fiction
Reread an old favorite
Choose the first title from a popular author

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Summer Reading Update

Our Summer Reading program has come to an end and I thought I'd give you an update on how it went.

Overall, we were very happy with how it went.  Not all of the 75 people who signed up actually participated, but this was probably a good thing, as we were VERY busy and I can barely imagine what it would have been like if they had all been doing it.  Here are some things that happened:


1. Our circulation more than doubled during the program.  We used to have about 200 items out; during the program we averaged 450.  I expect this to go down to normal levels again, but that's okay!


2. Kids and adults became more familiar with what the library has to offer, particularly in the children's area.  This was one of our primary goals.  We have some areas which we don't think anybody really 'sees', like a small but growing classics area, Easy Readers, children's biographies, etc.  By using the bingo card format and including these and other genres, people had to find these sections.


3. Some kids who were not big readers before, learned that they actually enjoyed reading!


4. A few adults who had not been big readers discovered some things they liked.


5. Our prize and reward system worked beautifully, and we have a bunch of coupons left over.


We learned that the first few weeks, we need to make sure we have lots of staff in the library!  It was pretty hectic helping all the people who came to sign up, and we didn't have enough people around to deal with that AND the people who were then trying to find the different genres in the library.


We need to design a separate bingo card for the pre-schoolers.  We added them kind of as an after-thought, and had them use the Beginner card, but we found it wasn't really appropriate for them.


We need a better record-keeping system.


But we're already bursting with ideas for next year, as well as for a mid-winter adult reading challenge, and we'll use some of those left over coupons as incentives.  We're quite happy with how it all went and with the ideas we've talked about for the future!



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Summer Reading Program at our church

We developed a summer reading program we're calling Berean's (name of our church) Book Bingo.

We have three groups - Beginner (3-gr. 2), Intermediate (gr. 3-6) and Teen (gr. 6-12).  I made a different Bingo card for each group; the first two have 25 squares and the Teen card has 20.  In each square three there is a  different genre or category of book, for example for the Beginner one it includes, among others, Animal story, Bible story, Easy Reader, Author A-D,  etc. The others include things like non-fiction, classic, mystery, biography, chapter of the Bible, etc. When the child completes a row or column, they get a prize, and when they finish the whole card they get a slightly better prize.

They also track how many pages they've read, and how many minutes they've read (although the Teens only do pages). At the end we'll give a prize for most pages and most minutes in each of the age groups.

Adults can also sign up - either to read aloud, or to read for themselves. There will be a prize for each of those categories, too.

At the end, we'll have an ice cream party and give out the "most whatever" prizes. For prizes, we have a couple of grab baskets full of trinkets from Oriental Trading that little kids love, and we  have spent months getting coupons from area businesses. Some are worth a lot (ie Subway gave us 10 coupons, each good for a 6" sub) and others are smaller (ie a kid/s cone at Ritter's) so we're doling them out appropriately according to age and accomplishment.

We began our sign-ups this past Sunday, and will continue for two more weeks.  Then the reading program officially begins on June 7, which is when participants can pick up their Bingo cards and reading records, and start reading.  The program will run through August 2, and we'll have our end-of-program ice cream party on the 3rd. 

We've never done anything like this before and I'm curious to see how it works out!  I'm pretty happy with how it all came together and I hope our families enjoy it.

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