LT book club going strong
Principal Dave Franson waves over a group of students to help them on the right bus at Lyons Township High School. | Dan Luedert—Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 7, 2012 6:08AM
LA GRANGE — David Franson didn’t set out to rival Oprah Winfrey in influencing popular literary tastes.
But the Lyons Township High School principal has developed a loyal following for a book club.
Franson and Scott Eggerding, director of curriculum, launched a book discussion group for students and staff in 2004-05 with selections announced every six to seven weeks.
In eight years, the Literary Lions group has read and reviewed 53 books in one-hour, afterschool sessions. Selections are suggested according to members’ interests, and participation varies by title.
Recent choices included The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and Mitch Albom’s For One More Day.
The book drawing the most student interest was Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.
“There was a big turnout. We heard everybody’s story about their heritage and background, where their ancestors came from,” Franson said. “We made a lot of connections between the adults and the kids who chose to come that day.”
The current title is The March by E.L. Doctorow about Sherman’s march to Atlanta, Franson said. Information is expected posted on the school’s website so community members can participate, he said.
The book club is one facet of promoting a culture of reading at the high school, the principal said.
“One of the best ways to be a life-long learner is by being a life-long reader,” he said. “And we’re trying to convey the idea it’s something that one can do for pleasure, for leisure, not something that needs to be associated with homework or work.”
Faculty members are invited to share what they’re reading with students on a plastic-covered sign outside their classroom or office. Franson’s weekly staff bulletin contains tips to incorporate additional reading or vocabulary into all subjects.
Chemistry teacher Dave Falli said he added a book discussion to his summer school class. Students read The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean a year ago concerning the origins of the periodic table and Imagine by John Lehrer in June focusing on aspects of creativity.
“With the new Common Core standards, we want to diversify the type of reading with more nonfiction and more technical journals,” Falli said. “That’s what the expectation is for the future, and we want to find things kids will be comfortable reading that are nonfiction.”
Falli said he enjoys the Literary Lions club selections and tries to participate whenever possible. Teachers modeling reading are a positive and powerful influence on students, he said.
“One of my favorite things about LT is vita plena, the quest for the fulfilling life,” he said. “I love the fact that I can coach sports, teach a very academic class and read books to be able to talk about different things.”