Every other Tuesday, a group of about 40 students meets after classes have ended at Lake Ridge High School. They come to read, discuss their favorite authors and debate about different genres of literature.
“They love it,” said Lake Ridge librarian Patricia Becht.
Five years ago, a small group of students came to Becht and said they wanted to form a book club. From that initial group of 12, the club has grown exponentially. Not everyone who joins is a complete bookworm. Some get invited by friends and learn later that reading is fun. Others may never read a single book – they just come to hang out.
“It’s just a safe place for us to have fun and bond as a group,” said senior Zoe Leddy.
Even as a fun activity, the book club supports the first of Vision 2030’s four guiding statements that says students will read on level or higher by the beginning of the third grade and will remain on level or higher as a Mansfield ISD student. The learning that takes place while exploring different genres, vocabulary building and the soft skills that come from working as a group and discussing preferences prepares students to be life, career and college ready.
The Lake Ridge after-school book club is democratic – they select books by popular vote. Members say they usually read from the fantasy and mystery genres. The most recent book, “Project Hail Mary,” by Andy Weir was an outlier because it’s science fiction.
“I think it’s really cool. We all have different tastes – we have a few who come that like to read classics, a lot of people like to read teen fiction and some people read fantasy and nonfiction like me,” said junior Zach Landreth.
Becht says TikTok has played a huge role in renewing an interest in reading. On the social media platform, teenagers use the hashtag #BOOKTok to direct viewers to videos where they review books, recommend good reads and reenact plot lines. According to news reports, #BOOKTok has received more than 80 billion views since its creation. Publishers credit the social media buzz with creating a surge in book sales.
In a world where texting, YouTube and video games take up many teenagers’ downtime, some are still reaching for books to relax.
“It’s nice to get a break and submerge myself in a world full of magic and fantasy and other people’s problems – characters I can connect to – and really just enjoy myself,” Leddy said.
“When they get the opportunity to read something they love vs. something they were assigned, it’s pretty exciting,” Becht said.
The high school library is evolving from the place students need to go for book reports and science projects to a popular place to be.
“They’re here because they enjoy it. Sometimes they’re even here on non-book-club-days. They just don’t go away,” Becht said with a smile.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.