Flathead Girls Book Club Promoting Reading with Younger Students

By Beacon Staff

Two weeks ago, more than 80 girls at Flathead High School poured into the library for their monthly tradition of the “She-Ra Girls Book Club.” It’s become a popular gathering among high school students and eager elementary kids who spend an hour huddled together in pairs or small groups reading and sharing stories.

“For our children, it’s good for them to be able to be around somebody who has a positive experience in books,” said Ashley Fischer, a teacher at Elrod. “It’s good for them to see somebody to look up to academically.”

Kim Nystuen, a teacher at Flathead High School, launched the volunteer book club for girls five years ago as a way to promote reading as an enjoyable pastime while also providing mentorship opportunities for the younger and older students.

“There was a need for this club to promote reading with high school girls. Many of my students are and have been members over the years — some of whom were and still are voracious readers, but also many who have come to enjoy reading as a new hobby,” Nystuen said.

Nystuen made connections with teachers at Elrod and Saint Matthews to establish the monthly meetings between high schoolers and third and fourth graders. There is also a similar boys’ book club at Flathead, called the He-Man Club.

“When I first started the club we were small, maybe 25 members,” said Nystuen. “I remember one girl, at our first meeting, said to me, ‘Mrs. Nystuen, I didn’t know we would have to read books.’ She was a sweetheart, but had never really developed a love for reading. She continued as a good club member, and was very proud when she finished reading her first book.”

As an extension of the book club, and to expose the club members to some current literature, Nystuen has arranged for visiting authors to meet with the girls in the past. The most recent was this past fall, when Katharyn Wood, or Katharyn Heselwood, a former Flathead graduate, visited with club members about her experience publishing her new e-book, “The Dryer Chronicles: Reverse Tumble.”

Last spring, along with the boys’ book club, a group of She-Ra members participated in a “Literacy Day” at Peterson Elementary School. This day, organized by Peterson, was devoted to promoting reading and related activities around the day’s theme of Dr. Seuss.

“It’s fun being a role model and coming and seeing the kids every month,” said Ali Fetveit, a junior at Flathead High.

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