Action Book Clubs across the country are combining reading with community service—and having fun along the way! In this series, we’re highlighting some of our favorite reading groups. To find out how you can start an Action Book Club of your own visit the program’s web page.

Action Book Club Location: Cedar City, Utah

Good Read: The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Good Deed: Creating a homemade book for a children’s crisis nursery

What’s your favorite word? Is it “kerfuffle” or “symphony” or “quantum”? Through the Action Book Club’s monthly newsletter, this kids’ book club won copies of The Word Collector, a book that tells the story of a boy who loves words. Then the club—with members ranging in age from three-and-a-half to eleven—used the power of their words to create a meaningful service project: they wrote a book to share with a local family support center.

Book club leader Amy Van Duzen, who is also a Little Free Library steward, organized the project. “I distributed books to each family at their homes with written instructions to make a collection of fun words, then organize them into a story, poem, or letter,” Amy said. “Each child collected wonderful words and expanded their own vocabularies to write creative stories and participate in the bookmaking process.”

“Due to COVID-19, we couldn’t meet all together, but this project allowed us to work individually or in smaller family setting and still be part of a group effort,” Amy noted. The group communicated via texting and social media posts. “I set a two-week deadline, then arranged to either pick up their finished project or have them email it to me.”

Amy’s coworker, Belinda Wilson, helped assemble the children’s work into a book of collected stories. The group dedicated it, along with a copy of The Word Collector, to the Family Support Center of Southwestern Utah in Cedar City where Amy works—and where most the clients attend for respite care. The club also made a bulletin board and provided worksheets at the center.  

Amy’s offers this advice for a successful and fun Action Book Club: “Enjoy the process of being a part of a like-minded group and add your own unique flair to your project for the enjoyment of your community.”

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