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Spring Community Book Club Skypes with Author

Members of the Oyster Bay-East Norwich community came together for the 12th Community Book Club at Oyster Bay High School to share thoughts about the book, Posted, by John David Anderson, and gain first-hand advice from the author, himself, through a Skype session.

The tradition — initiated and hosted by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Laura Seinfeld in an effort to bring all sectors of the community together through the written word — effectively forges camaraderie and introduces different perspectives of the book by following a World Café Model.

Participants—ranging in age from 9 years old to 80-something—sat in small, intimate groups and initiated conversations based on set questions read aloud by Student Council President Jason Hom, co-facilitator of the event.  After a set amount of time, the participants switched groups and continued discussions with new participants who offered fresh perspectives on the book.  Each group selected a student to be a “table host” who took notes and helped guide the conversations. After the discussions, students volunteered to stand up and share their ideas, each building on what the student before them shared.

Set in Branton Middle School, where cell phones are banned, Posted introduces the reader to students Frost Deedee, Wolf, and Bench who come up with a new way to communicate by leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. Soon all the students are using sticky notes, but while some are friendly and kind, others are cruel and hurtful. The novel explores the power of words, bullying, severed relationships, social media and the failures of communication between friends.

Adding a deeper dimension to the evening, participants had the opportunity to ask the author questions about his book and get a better understanding of the factors that went into writing it during a Skype session.

“The notions of friendships falling apart, people being able to stand up for each other, upstanders versus bystanders — all that stuff. I went through all that, and I think if you can write something that is emotionally true, then it’s going to resonate with your readers,” Mr. Anderson said to the audience.  “That’s what I tried to do; I tried to write something where I could take my middle school experience and breathe it into the characters, and follow the difficulties that kids nowadays have to face. Some of these things are universal; friendships are always going to fall apart, and some of these are very specific 21st century problems and, so, I admire your parents for the challenge of raising kids in today’s technologically saturated age but mostly I admire the kids for being brave and standing up for what you believe in and using your words to change the world.”

One of the youngest members of the group, James H. Vernon School 4th grader Maalika Mehta, who read the book at the suggestion of her school librarian, said, “I learned a lot of life lessons, such as not to be negative all the time or don’t be a party pooper.”

Her mother, Jigna, also a first-timer, said, “It was interesting to see what people thought was the most important part of the story.  People have different points of view depending on what stage of life they are in, as a child and as an adult. Each person brought a different meaning and different interpretation of the author’s thoughts.”

Seventh-grader Deanna Besart, who also experienced the book club for the first time said, I thought it was so cool that we actually had the chance to talk to the author and ask him questions. I’m definitely going to do it again.”

Dr. Seinfeld thanked everyone for participating in the book club and for making it a success.

“I hope the experience has been an enriching and rewarding one for all,” she said.

 

spring community book club participants

Seinfeld’s 12th Community Book Club met at Oyster Bay High School to discuss the book, Posted.

 small group discussions at community book club

Participants sit in small groups to share ideas about the book.

 a student takes notes at community book club

Vernon School 6th grader Adrian Kim takes copious notes based on the groups’ discussions.

 Participants change seats at community book club

Participants change groups for new discussions as part of the World Café Model.

 Skype session with author at Community Book Club

Participants engage in a Skype session with author John David Anderson.