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Next Chapter Book Club inclusive for readers with developmental disabilities

Erin Rojas, at left, and Cody Britnell, volunteers at Madison Public Library, are charter members of the Next Chapter Book Club. (CONTRIBUTED)
Erin Rojas, at left, and Cody Britnell, volunteers at Madison Public Library, are charter members of the Next Chapter Book Club. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – A new book club at Madison Public Library will serve adolescents and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and promote the philosophy of inclusion.

The Next Chapter Book Club’s first meeting will be Sept. 9 at 6:30 p.m. “Madison Public Library and Madison Friends of the Library are very excited to offer the new book club,” library programming clerk Teresa Allison said.

“Participants in the Next Chapter Book Club will meet to read, learn and make friends in a relaxed setting. The premise is simple: A group of five to eight people with IDD gathers with two or three trained volunteer facilitators at the library to read aloud and discuss a book for one hour each week,” Allison said.

The club’s goal is for members to interact more frequently and in new ways with books and stories, with each other and with the community around them. “We are looking for people in our community who would like to become a member of this new club,” she said.

Anyone can participate, regardless of their reading or ability level. Club members range from proficient readers to individuals who don’t read independently.

The club “is in response to our fabulous volunteer staff, some of whom are young adults with IDD,” Allison said. Volunteers Cody Britnell and Erin Rojas already have eagerly joined.

The club demonstrates “real-life examples of the terms ‘community inclusion,’ ‘socially connected,’ ‘lifelong learning’ and ‘self-determination’ for people with IDD,” Allison said. Club members determine practically all aspects of their participation in the club and are encouraged to express their opinions, wants and needs.

However, Next Chapter Book Club is not a traditional reading class or tutoring situation. “Although members often do improve literacy skills, the club’s focus is on reading to learn, not learning to read,” Allison said. Social interaction and community inclusion are equally important elements.

Next Chapter Book Club will meet on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, email to tallison@hmcpl.org.

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