Congratulations are in order.
On Monday, the National Book Foundation announced the winner and honorable mentions of the 2016 Innovations in Reading Prize.
Bill Porter, a book club member, prepared a list of questions to ask Maltba about Minnie, wanting to know how she’s helpful to him, how long it takes to train her, and if she can be a regular dog outside of being a service dog.
Maltba and Minnie spent 400 hours of training getting to know each other, he said to the group. And, when Minnie wears her service vest, she knows she’s “on the clock” and working. Whenever Malta takes it off of her, like he did at the library, she’s just like any other dog and hangs out, he explained.
Bringing Minnie in to the book club allowed them to see the real-life workings of the story, Parsons said.
“It’s not pretend,” she said. “People really do have Minnies and Clares and it really works.”
The book club also occurs in a public space and encourages interaction between individuals with developmental disabilities with anyone passing through the library, as stated in a library news release.
“Literacy is not just the mechanics of reading,” Parsons stated in the release. “It is the enjoyment of gaining ideas and sharing them with others who also want a bigger life. That’s the ‘why’ of book clubs. Book clubs are for everyone.”
How libraries can provide services for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum
“Why don't you give me one whooper cupcake,” said a customer.
Every day at Jones Bros Cupcakes, there is a delicious decision to be made.
“And how about one of the red velvet cupcakes there in the bottom,” said the customer.
But the fun flavors aren't the only thing bringing the customers back.
An hour at a coffee shop reading a book means a lot to the members of the Next Chapter Book Club.
“Book club is amazing, I tell you,” club member Chelsea Bauman said. “I’m loving every part of it.”
The Next Chapter Book Club, based in Westminster, provides opportunities for teens and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities to read together in a community setting.
“Generally, most books will take us a long time to read,” program coordinator Jen Holmes said. “The goal is that the participants read the books — we don’t read the books to them.”
Most of the group’s members have some reading ability, Holmes said. But she told a story of a participant who couldn’t read at all when he first started attending.
“Jerry couldn’t read any words, and now, about six months later, he has some sight words,” Holmes said. “He is learning how to read.”
To help Jerry learn, Holmes used a technique called echo reading. She would read and, while looking at the words, Jerry would repeat after her.
“Words like ‘and’ and ‘the,’” Holmes said. “He knows those now. I don’t need to read them to him.”
Thelma Valdez, mother of Lucas, a book club participant, also is a substitute volunteer in the program. She supports Next Chapter for many reasons.
“It’s an activity that gets them into the community,” Valdez said. “They read at a level that (Lucas) can comprehend, and it’s a great way for him to be with his peers and have fun.”
The groups have five to eight participants with two volunteers, but Holmes said she is looking for more volunteers so she can start more groups.
The club meets for one hour a week at coffee shops, currently at either a Caribou Coffee shop or a Barnes & Noble in Westminster. Being in a public, community setting is important to the program.
“We’re in the community and we’re not only reading, but we’re having fun,” Holmes said. “And the community is getting more exposed to people with disabilities.”
Lopez also believes being in the community is important.
“Where they are meeting at the Caribou, they have been very accommodating. They are all young adults and they can get loud,” Lopez said. “But these are the types of interactions with the community that they need, where they aren’t treated differently.”
Lopez said her son knows he will get hot chocolate and see his friends, whom he may not see otherwise, since none can drive.
“The best part,” Lopez said, “is that before they start, they socialize, and at the end, they socialize.”
Bauman loves the social aspect and is excited she is making new friends.
“We laugh, we talk and we communicate with each other,” Bauman said. “It’s a great time to have fun.”