New Chapter for Disabled

Way Library in Perrysburg forms book club

The Way Public Library in Perrysburg is partnering with Wood Lane to lead a book club designed to accommodate the needs of adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Called the Next Chapter Book Club, the group is an affiliate of an organization by the same name based in central Ohio.

“It gives them an opportunity to gather with friends,” the organization’s executive director, Susan Berg, said. “We might take it for granted.”

The organization has affiliated clubs 50 other libraries in America, and 40 clubs in Europe.

“We never imagined how it would grow,” she said.

The club in Perrysburg is just getting off the ground, but Pat Thompson, a retired teacher who has volunteered to facilitate the meetings, has big plans.

Her goal is to have multiple groups meeting weekly in the library. Each group has to be small, with no more than eight participants, so that facilitators can keep the meetings flowing.

The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library is also working on starting a club. Deputy Director Jason Kucsma said a few pilot programs could begin early next year, although firm plans have not been made yet.

Next Chapter Book Clubs are similar to other book club in many ways, with friends gathered together to discuss a book.

However, to accommodate the varied reading levels of participants, along with some who cannot read at all, the book is read aloud during the group meeting.

“You have to see where everyone is at,” Ms. Thompson said. Most come to the club with about a 1st-grade reading level.

But where participants start is not where they will finish, Ms. Berg said, especially for those who came to the club with limited reading skills.

Facilitators are trained in echo reading, a technique during which a facilitator points to words on the page while reading them aloud, and then asking the participant to repeat the words.

“That’s how we engage our nonreaders,” Ms. Berg said. “Often, their reading skills do improve.”

The club is geared toward those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but it is open to the general public.

“It helps build confidence and involves them in the community,” said Mollie Tyrrell, Wood Lane Community Education coordinator. “This is inclusive. … We’re happy to promote that club.”

She said Wood Lane wants to send someone to be trained by Next Chapter Book Club, so the program can be spread throughout the county.

The club meets every Thursday, including today, at the Way Library in Perrysburg from 6 to 7 p.m. Those who wish to register should call Natalie Dielman at 419-874-3135, ext. 112.

Contact Zack Lemon at: zlemon@theblade.com419-724-6282, or on Twitter @zack_lemon.

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