What's Up ...with BDS groups


Check out what BDS book groups are up to!

We love hearing from our groups. So if you've had a fun meeting, held a special activity or celebrated a milestone, let us know. We'll share your news and views.

Check out Facebook, too! www.facebook.com/bookdiscussionscheme

Upcycling Christmas

New Plymouth 018 decided to upcycle their end of year celebrations.

Convenor Beverly Wilson wrote in to explain about her book group's last meeting of the year:

"We all had to come dressed in red and/or gold outfits that were purchased from an op shop and the gifts also had to come from an op shop with a $10 limit.

"The outfits were gorgeous and the gifts all well received .....and the local charities benefited!"

Sounds like a lot of fun and a win all round.

 

Books for Prisoners' children

A collection of books is making its way to children of prisoners.

CHCH 277 agreed at their November meeting to support a chosen charity and unanimously chose Pillars. The organisation supports the families of prisoners. 

Convenor Ann Jinman says the children's books have now been collected and wrapped and number more than their membership of 12. The attached photo only shows part of the collection.

They thought other groups might be inspired by their idea.

"I'm sure it will become a tradition in our group," says Ann.

 

Freedom in a Tote Bag

SORRY...we are now sold out of this print-run of BDS Tote bags. (17 Dec 2018)

 

Whether you're heading out to book club or down to the shops, make sure you're wearing this fairtrade, premium quality canvas shoulder bag!

...BDS has teamed up with Freeset to offer BDS members this stylish shoulder bag. These premium quality, hand screenprinted and hand sewn bags are made by Indian women freed from a life of prostitution.

 

totebag2thumb

Bag Specifications

30cm H x 35cm W x 15cm gusset

Hand screenprinted on both sides (identical design)

Magnetic closure, for added security.

Two inside pockets (suitable for wallet, keys etc and mobile phone). One pocket has velcro sealed flap.

Made of organic cotton.

Fairtrade production, to assist the women in reclaiming a better life for themselves.

 

ORDER NOW!

Each BDS Freedom Tote bag costs $22 each
(including postage)   

OR

Get together with your book group, and order FOUR or more bags and you only pay $18 per bag
(including postage).

 

 

 Thank you for joining in this journey of freedom!

 

20 years in Timaru

Timaru 008 sent in this end-of-year pic to say they have been going for 20 years.

Three of the group are the originals. 

"We are very proud of our group and have been there for one another over those years. ...[It] has been wonderful time of support,

friendship, fellowship and of course lots of wonderful reading," writes convenor Barb Fennessy.

Well done!

 

 

When we discuss the book I understand better

Rachel, a migrant who attends a BDS-resourced book group for speakers of other languages, succinctly sums up a key aspect of any book-club experience.

"When I read a book I think I understand the story; when we discuss the book I understand better," she says.

Rachel is a member of Tauranga 046, which meets at the library in the seaside suburb of Papamoa. The book group was formed in mid-2015 when seven students of language agency English Language Partners (ELP) told their tutor Pam Hansen that they'd like to continue meeting together even though their class had finished.

The students had completed a 250-hour Intensive Literacy and Numeracy course designed to improve their everyday English. 

Pam's co-tutor, Sue, agreed to be involved with the book group and to help out. Another friend Mary also got involved.

"I like the camaraderie of the group and meeting up with old friends," says Sue.

TAUR 046's initial meeting was at former ELP student Joy's house, where everyone agreed to trial a half-year of book group meetings. 

"It was so successful that we have continued ever since, with five of the seven original members still participating." says Pam.

More than three years later, the group now has ten members including Pam, Sue and Mary. The fact that the group is all-women is just coincidence.

The women range in age from 30-something to 70 years and come from China (5 members), Korea (1) and Mexico (1). Previous members have been from Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, and Egypt, as well as China and Korea. Three members have Kiwi partners and some have young families. They meet monthly on a Friday morning. 

"The members' backgrounds vary but most of our group have been keen readers all their lives and all enjoy the discipline of having a new book each month," says Pam, who has a background in primary teaching, adult literacy and helping children with learning difficulties.

Original book-group member Joy finds motivation and inspiration from meeting regularly as a group.

"Discussion helps you to open your mind to other things you didn't see, makes you think about the questions more deeply," she says. "If I didn't join the group I wouldn't read so much. I like having to read a new book each month with the group, it helps me learn more." 

Jessica says being part of the group forces her to read. For her, the best outcome is that she is "finally reading books in English."  Rachel admits she, too, might be a bit lazy in her reading habits without the impetus of the group.

Lina says the books help her learn more about the culture and history of New Zealand and elsewhere.

Convenor Pam finds it very satisfying to help the migrants feel comfortable and confident in their new environment. She enjoys seeing the progress they make in their English skills and confidence.

"Even if everyone doesn't actually finish the book, they enjoy the discussion and social aspect of the group," she says. "They appreciate the opportunity to practise speaking and listening in English, as we share our views and experiences. Overall we keep it relaxed and fun, the discussion questions can be a good conversation starter but we always catch up on each other's lives as well."

Sounds like many other book groups we could mention, doesn't it?

 

 

November 2018 at the Papamoa Library: (back row) Juan, Kay, Rachel; (front row) Pam (Convenor), Mary (helper), Linda, Sue (helper) and Joy.  "Reading in English helps me learn new words," says Joy.

  

Xmas Lunch 2018: Lina, Pam (convenor), Joy and Rachel. "This group is a good chance to practise listening and speaking," says Rachel.

 

Jessica, Kay, Mary (helper), Linda (standing), Joy and Lina. “If not reading then I don’t know the culture and history," says Lina. 

 

 

Book group patron

How many book clubs have a patron? Dunedin 058 does.

A patron is 'a loyal supporter of someone or something'. Google tell us that a patron of the arts 'helps support starving artists'; we hope that doesn't apply to the members of this book group!  (As an aside, the word 'patron' comes from the Latin pater, meaning 'father' so should we actually refer to Neroli as 'matron'? Or is the term gender neutral as the word 'actor' has become? Anyway, back to the story... - Editor)

Fifteen years ago, when Lorraine Isaacs of Dunedin visited her childhood friend Neroli Wood in Perth, she discovered that Neroli belonged to no fewer than three book clubs.

Neroli encouraged Lorraine to convene a single book club, which her (Neroli's) elder sister, Jenny, would join. In return, Lorraine made Neroli the as-yet-unformed book club's patron. DUNED 058 was begun on Lorraine's return to New Zealand. Six of the original seven members still meet every month. To date, they have read and discussed 139 BDS books.

In November, when member Jenny Drew turned 80, Neroli came over for the celebration. The photo below shows the Dunedin book club and its patron after a delicious birthday lunch.

Front Row:   Lorraine Isaacs (Convener), Neroli Wood (Patron), Jenny Drew (80th birthday)

Back Row: Maureen Smith, Jeanette Leigh, Helen Lloyd, Gaynor Haig, Vivienne McLean.

 

Info about overdue books now online

A new function on our website allows Convenors to check if any of their group's books are overdue.

The online information, which can be accessed through the Convenor part of the BDS website, allows groups to keep a better track of which books are still outstanding.

 

FOLLOW THESE STEPS to find out which books are due to be returned to the BDS office:

1. Log in to the Convenor section of the BDS website

2. If you have overdue books, a notice appears on the home page of that section:

3. Click on the notice and you will be taken to a screen that shows which books are overdue and the barcodes of those books.

 

You will also notice that 'Books Supplied' are listed as well. There's opportunity to click on 'Please Review' (far righthand-side), which you can click and provide a rating out of 5 for that book. You also have the ability to record a brief overview of your group's opinion of the book and discussion had.

 

Male 'book and beverage' group hits the spot

Peter Swan's all-male book club might seem to encourage stereotypical 'bloke' behaviour but at closer inspection his 'Beverage and Books' group does anything but.

The former civil-structural engineer is part of a 10-man book discussion group that meets monthly on a Tuesday afternoon to talk about that month's book selection. Members are in the 'early and active stages' of retirement.

"The way we've set it up is you read the book and if you're the host for that month you have to come up with a hosting drink," says Peter, who lives on the North Shore. of Auckland.

"So while you're reading, you're very much keeping in mind an appropriate connection between the content of the book and picking out something from the book that might go down as a little 'theme' for our monthly gathering," he says.

As an example, Peter says a vodka based drink was too obvious a choice when he hosted the group after reading about the Russian army fighting the French during Napoleonic times. Instead, he made the Eastern European drink kvass out of stale bread and baked some dry biscuits, which related to the diet of the hungry soldiers depicted in the book.

"There's always a scene in every book where someone's eating something," he says.

The BDS book group has been meeting for more than 3 years. Five of the original seven members of Peter's group are friends. The remaining three men joined later and have connections with other members. At their meetings, the group allocates an hour for discussion of the book; that part is quite formal and involves everyone giving their opinion and grading the book out of 10. In precise engineering fashion, books are graded to in one decimal point, such as 7.2 out of 10.

"The discussion then branches off onto related subjects – or unrelated subjects – depending on the book!" says Peter. "I guess it's a good judge of what we think of a book if discussion about it continues on."

When Peter first retired, he tried out a couple of mixed reading groups but decided to do something 'a little bit different' to get guys interested and that's when the beverage idea came up. He enjoys golf, singing and other pursuits but the book group is his favourite activity and says the beverage aspect is an ice-breaker that the men can relate to.

 

In retirement, Peter Swan's 'Book and Beverage' book club is his favourite activity. Here's Peter (back row at right) with some of the members of his book group.  (Photo credit: Peter Swan)

 

Male book group encourages tolerance

A Mount Albert man believes his all-male book group not only promotes a love of reading but encourages tolerance.

Michael Loo, who meets up monthly with four other male readers, says belonging to a book group broadens their knowledge and helps counter the tendency of digital-device use to 'shrink' their horizons.

"It's said about phones or devices that we tend to gravitate towards what we want to read; we're not exposed to different ideas," says the fulltime dad.

"That's the value of reading and belonging to an organised book group: we're exposed to different points of view and perspectives and broaden our outlook on things. It makes us more tolerant, I hope!" he says.

Michael, who formerly worked in the insurance sector, joined the book group more than a decade ago. The group was originally set up by six men. Michael now coordinates the current members, who are aged in their 50s and 60s.

Refreshments aren't a big deal at their book club meetings but some of the men have been known to bake biscuits for the occasion. Meeting venues alternate between three households – whoever happens to volunteer their home that month.

Discussion about the book itself can be rather short, especially if work commitments or other constraints mean some of the men haven't finished reading it within the monthly timeframe. Michael finds that finishing a book is always rewarding for him, even if he has to persevere through someone else's book choice that doesn't immediately appeal.

"We tend not to dwell too much on the literary merits or the structure of the book, but discuss more of the historical or social or political or philosophical background behind the story if it's a fiction book, or the facts behind the book if it's non-fiction," he says.

During the past decade, the group has "dipped' in and out of the Book Discussion Scheme.

"The scheme is a readymade way of organising a book group: we don't have to go out and look for a book, we have a catalogue of titles to choose from and there's suggested format for running meetings. It's wonderful!" says Michael.

Michael Loo is part of an all-male book group in Mt Albert that he believes helps foster tolerance. (Photo credit: Michael Loo).

 

Men's book group is surprisingly candid

The coordinator of an all-male book group in Dunedin is staggered – and delighted – by the candour with which the men talk about themselves.

"What has really struck me is the conversations start with the book and end up with the men talking about their lives, which is something men don't tend to do," says Damien Gibson.

"I've been staggered - and delighted, really," says the 53-year-old teacher trainee, who believes the group wouldn't be so candid if there were women in it.

Damien has been overseeing his five-man book group (a sixth member has only recently left) for the past two years. The group, which meets in a pub every other month, predominantly reads fiction. 

He says the group prefer to read novels because the books are "a bit of a launching pad" and lend themselves to wide ranging conversations.

"We see men's book groups as a way for guys to connect socially, particularly as they approach retirement," says Book Discussion Scheme manager Barbara Brown.

"At whatever age, being part of a book group – whether male or mixed – is a great way to connect and socialise with others in your community, to read widely and keep mentally alert," she says.

The men in Damien's group are aged in their 50s and 60s and are or have been in professional occupations. Three of them were part of a previous book group, but two other male readers joined recently.

Damien says the adage that men talk 'shoulder to shoulder' not face to face doesn't fit his experience and that members of the book group are quite open about aspects of their lives.

"When we discussed the Colm Toibin novel The Blackwater Lightship, we talked about skeletons in the family closet; when we read [Russian author] Turgenev's First Love, there's us men talking about our first loves," says Damien.

Corstorphine's Damien Gibson says he's staggered and delighted that his all-male book group talk candidly about their lives as well as each month's book. (Photo credit: Damien Gibson)

 

Book group provides social glue for Whakatane men

For a part-time bush worker, his men’s book club provides much needed social interaction.

Whakatane semi-retiree Peter Fergusson, who works for Manawahe Eco Trust helping to eradicate pest animals from bushland, is part of a 9-man BDS group who meet monthly to talk about a selected title.

“Some men don’t get lots of opportunities to sit down and talk with other men about things other than the immediate sports event or news events or their work,” says Peter.

“To have an opportunity to sit down and discuss whatever is really good,” he says.

His book group has been going for three years and meets in each other’s homes. Most of the men are aged in their 60s. Two, including Peter, are semi-retired but the others work in a range of professions including medicine, engineering and teaching.

“I think men can sometimes be quite isolated and lonely, because for some who are working 50 or 60 hours a week their world becomes narrowed,” says Peter. “I’m sure that’s true for some women as well, but in my opinion women are better at making contact and organising their social networks.”

Even though Peter works only part-time, his job is a solitary one. He can spend all day in the bush, patrolling for possums, rats and stoats. The charitable trust he works for maintains bush on hilly farmland that forms a corridor between Rotorua Lakes and the sea. “I can spend 2 or 3 days without seeing anybody apart from my immediate family,” he says.

At their meetings, the men enjoy a good wine and eating cheese and crackers or the occasional dessert. Discussion of the book itself may only take up a quarter of the evening but often stimulates chat on other topics such as music, politics or world events. The discussion often doesn’t wind up until 10 or 11pm.

The men’s reading taste gravitates slightly in favour of non-fiction. The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind was a recent stand-out for the group.

“Everybody looks through the scheme’s list of books and chooses some. It’s quite good to be forced to read things that you probably wouldn’t select by choice,” says Peter. “I quite like history ones because you can imagine yourself as just an ordinary person in that a different era, how you would be and behave,” he says.

BDS currently has 14 men-only groups around the country but estimates that about 10% of its 13,000 book-club readers are men. A 2018 report by the Book Council of New Zealand (Book Reading in New Zealand ) indicated a slight drop in the number of Kiwi men reading. The council’s 2018 research indicates a drop of 3% in the past year in the number of adult males starting to read at least one book. The reported stated that males make up 69% of those adults who did not read a book in the past 12 months.

His all-male book group provides social interaction for part-time bush worker and pest-trapper Peter Fergusson.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Peter Fergusson)

This article was submitted to the Rotorua Daily Post and appeared in the Saturday 13 November edition.

 

Dawn Raid author visits

Reading our own New Zealand stories can be a powerful experience and Invercargill 004 enjoyed hosting the author of a book in the 'New Zealand Stories' series produced by educational publisher Scholastic New Zealand. The series is designed for use in primary schools.

Convenor Marni Stone wrote in to say her group read Dawn Raid, the 28th title in the series, and met with its Southland author, Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith.

"It was wonderful to hear about her journey from idea to published book," writes Marni. "We certainly look forward to seeing more books that Pauline has published...."

The book series brings to life significant events in NZ history as seen through the eyes of fictitious child diarists. Dawn Raid brings to life a darker side of race relations in New Zealand, recalling NZ Police raids to locate Polynesian over-stayers.

The September 6th book group meeting with Pauline is pictured below (4 members are absent). Author Pauline Smith is in the middle of the front row. 

To learn more about her book, click here

 

 

Prison book group volunteer honoured

Prison volunteer Celia Bockett received an award from Department of Corrections Ara Poutama Aotearoa for her help in running a BDS book group at Tongariro prison. 

BDS was advised of Celia's award by Helen Johnston, Senior Advisor Community Partnerships, who forwarded this article about the volunteer award ceremony:

"The prison celebrated National Volunteer Week with a concert performed by paihere from Te Hikoinga (Māori Focus Unit) and an afternoon tea for their team of 26 volunteers.

'Many Howard League volunteers only work with one or two paihere at the gatehouse and although they’ve all had a tour of the site, they often don’t get the wider picture of what activities happen at the prison,' says Regional Volunteer Coordinator Gendi Te Keepa. 'It was a fun and enlightening event for everyone.'

Celia Bockett was pleasantly surprised to receive a volunteer recognition certificate for her monthly book discussion group.  A former librarian, Celia has a passion for adult literacy and has been running the group for about 10 months.

Gendi says Ceila has made a real difference.  'You can see that the men are enthusiastic and really enjoy the book group.  They’re participating more as time goes on and are growing in confidence.' ”

Well done Celia!   

      

 

Kiwi authors find their 'voice'

“As a writer, I’m the end product of everything I’ve read,” said respected New Zealand author Lloyd Jones to an audience of 30 BDS members on Saturday night (1 September).

Lloyd, a shortlister for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, spoke as part of a collaborative event between WORD Christchurch and BDS during the city’s literary festival. Five of his titles are in the BDS Catalogue.

The other speaker was author and Massey University lecturer in creative writing, Tina Makereti. Her first novel Where the Rekohu Bone Sings is proving popular with BDS book groups.

The hour-long evening session, called ‘Conversations with Lloyd and Tina’, was held at The Piano in Christchurch’s CBD. Members had the opportunity to enjoy a wine and nibbles while hearing from the two authors about their careers.

Director of Hagley Writers’ Institute, Morrin Rout, acted as ‘question meister’ by posing members’ pre-submitted questions (and fielding a few live ones as well). She invited the guests of honour to book-end the session with a reading of their choice. Attendees were treated to an extract from Tina’s second novel The Imaginary Lives of James Poneke and Lloyd selected a passage from his memoir, A History of Silence.

As the evening progressed, it was discovered that the writers each prefer a different time of day for their craft (Lloyd’s a morning person; Tina, categorically not so!) and gravitate towards different writing tools (Lloyd transcribes handwritten notes but Tina heads straight for the computer).

Beyond the superficial differences - of age, writing style and their canon of published work -  both authors agreed that writing is about finding a voice, not a story.

“Once you’ve got the voice, everything clicks,” said Tina, who figures out each character as she writes.

She highlighted the personal nature of her first novel and how it reflected her own whakapapa, which she described as Moriori, Pakeha and Maori.

"I’m not part-Maori, part-Moriori and part-Pakeha,” she clarified.

Lloyd, too, described his writing as an “act of discovery” and an "act of persuasion". All his books are about identity, he said.

Some members were left slightly unnerved by Lloyd's rather mercenary approach to his characters. One reader expressed how she sometimes felt 'haunted' by his characters after finishing a book. By contrast Lloyd said he's quite happy to leave them all behind. 

Members travelled from as far away as Ashburton to attend the one-off event. 

  

Morrin Rout (L) kept the conversation flowing between authors Tina Makereti and Lloyd Jones.

  

BDS staffer Megan Blakie (in pink) welcomed everyone in Te Reo before handing over the reins to Morrin.  

 

Charity starts at BDS' home

New Zealand-based  author Charity Norman made a special visit to the BDS office on Friday 31 August to visit staff (no, we didn't quite 'See her in September', groan). 

We enthusiastically asked questions about her life as an author and details of her books. We have four of her titles in the scheme.

Charity was on her way to the Ngaio Marsh Awards for crime literature, for which she'd been nominated; the awards were announced during the WORD Christchurch festival. 

In May last year, Charity featured in our Book Night event in the Hawke's Bay. That event was standing room only, which reflects the appeal of her novels to BDS readers and beyond.

Here she is at the BDS office signing some of her titles (with a smile on her face despite her 5.30am start to the day and a lingering lurgy):

    
 

Thank you from the 'inside'

It's not unusual for Book Discussion Scheme to receive the occasional card or email of thanks from members who appreciate the service we provide or to share how much they are enjoying their book club. It was a surprise, however, to receive a handwritten letter from a prisoner. 

"I just thought I would take a bit of time to thank you and the team for providing a great service to the men here," writes Andrew* from a men's Corrections Facility.

Andrew is in the high security Kauri Unit at Christchurch's Men's Prison, Paparua, and joined a monthly book group as a way to alleviate some of the "wearisome" and "unvaried" aspects of being in prison. The daytime group is run in conjunction with BDS and led by accredited volunteers.

"[T]he books and the team of visitors ... give up their time to come here to help guys open up their mind to release themselves from the emotional, mental internal prison we hold ourselves in while in this place," writes Andrew.

His group, CHCH 443, are nearing the completion of their first full (10-month) programme. The men are busy choosing their next list of titles from the BDS Catalogue. Andrew hopes the group will choose an "eclectic" mix of fiction and non-fiction.

He says he has been reading more fiction since joining the book group and having the encouragement of the volunteers and the prison's Librarian (the Corrections staff member who runs the in-prison library). While describing fiction as a form of escapism, he also acknowledges that it's a way to "open up my mind".

At the time of writing, Andrew was reading To Kill a Mocking Bird, which he remembers from high school.

Ironically, Andrew used to work in Sydenham and walked past the Book Discussion Scheme office every day. Now that he is aware of what we offer, he says he'll "gladly" tell people about us and suggest they join a book group.

Book Discussion Scheme resources prison-based book groups as part of its 'social agenda' policy. Subsidised book group programmes are offered in conjunction with the National Volunteer Coordinator, Community Partnerships, at the Department of Corrections Ara Poutama Aotearoa.

As at July 2018, 11 book groups meet at 9 Corrections Facilities throughout the country. They operate in both men's and women's prisons.

* Name changed

(generic photo image)

Since the time of writing, we have received another letter from a male prisoner  in appreciation of his book group. He says he wasn't much of a reader but he is thankful to be part of a "friendly, relaxed group' that is non-judgemental and respectful. (November 2018)

 

Off duty librarian wins with novel romance

Squeezing some Mills and Boon romance into her evening paid dividends for Book Night winner Wendy Horne.

"I read for escapism," says Wendy. "I was reading a trashy romance; I hope no-one will diss me for that!"

The Upper Hutt librarian won the 16-years and over prize draw of the nationwide reading event, which is run by Book Discussion Scheme. Wendy received $175 in book vouchers sponsored by business software company Chreos Business Solutions.

The mother of two boys is one of 2146 adults and children across the country, from Northland to Stewart Island, who participated in Book Night on 22 May. The prize draw was open to anyone who read for at least 15 minutes and registered on-line on the Book Night website.

"I like reading historical romance... usually Regency, early 1800s," says Wendy. "The ones I normally read have a little bit of sex in them - not 'he gives her a kiss' and that's the end of the chapter sort-of-thing! In the last couple of years I've read quite a bit of New Zealand historical fiction, too."

Wendy managed to fit in an hour and a half's reading at home, between a full day's work as the library's Digital Services and Training Coordinator and venturing out on the cold night to play indoor cricket.

"We had done all the dinner and stuff by about 6 o'clock and I had to go out by twenty to nine to play indoor cricket. It was absolutely pouring with rain and hailing. We just turned off the TV and I read," she says.

Book club organisation Book Discussion Scheme introduced Book Night three years ago as a way to promote reading and its benefits. It is loosely based on a similar event held in the UK.

"It's not what you read that counts but the fact that you are reading," says Barbara Brown, manager of the Scheme. "Whether its romance or rugby, paper books or e-books, the important thing is for people to enjoy what they read and to make reading a habit."

According to New Zealand Book Council statistics about 400,000 Kiwis a year don't read a book.

"That's something we'd like to help change," says Barbara. "We know from research that regular reading is a key way to improve children's abilities and develop empathy. Also, it's shown to reduce stress and to maintain brain function in older people."

More than 30 community activities were held at schools, libraries and other venues as part of Book Night. Upper Hutt Library ran a pyjama party, for families of young children, at its temporary premises in the CBD Towers on Main Street.

Wendy says her library colleagues are a bit jealous of her prize. However, rather than spend all her winnings on herself, she intends to gift half to her younger son's primary school.

"My son loves graphic novels. His school has a small library so I'd like them to buy some books," she says.

Other Book Night prize winners are Sean Wansbrough, principal of Mount Somers Springburn School in Mid Canterbury, and pre-schooler Jett Wait from Hamilton, who had help from his mum Lisa-Marie to register for the event.

First-prize sponsor Steven WIld, the CEO of Chreos Business Solutions, says: "Reading has become a really important part of my life and I see the benefit of the experience in my children and grandchildren.  While it isn't our core business, we have been really impressed with what BDS does to foster reading and community, and once again we have been privileged to partner with BDS in this event."

 

Book Night winner Wendy Horne (centre), from Upper Hutt, receives $175 book vouchers from local BDS members Della Davis (L) and UPHU 007 convenor Sue Dunscombe (R) on behalf of Book Discussion Scheme and prize sponsor Chreos Business Solutions.  
Photo supplied by Upper Hutt Libraries

 

Less homework, more reading

Mid Canterbury school principal Sean Wansbrough is a keen advocate of the pastime of reading, so much so that the school's homework policy reflects this.

Pupils' homework requirements have been reduced in an effort to increase the time available for them to spend reading.

"What we pretty much say to parents is if your kids read for 15 minutes a day they will learn to read almost in spite of what we do here at school," says Sean.

"I'm not saying they'll become the best readers in the world but they will be competent readers if they just spend that bit of time each night reading," he says.

Sean walks the talk and in so doing won second prize in our nationwide reading event earlier in the year. He attended his school's Book Night activities on May 22, as a way to encourage his pupils and their families in their reading, but ended up winning a parcel of books and a tote bag sponsored by BDS.

"We had a whole lot of computers set up for the kids to register and I was helping them and ...I must have thrown in my name in as well," says Sean, who qualified for the Book Night draw by reading for at least a quarter of an hour.

Unfortunately the demands of Sean's job means he isn't as voracious a reader as he once was.

"I used to be into eclectic novels," he says. "Mostly I read non-fiction at the moment; that's probably where my bent is."

Local BDS book group members Janice Sewell and Raewyn Millar delivered Sean's prize parcel on behalf of BDS in mid-June.

This is the second year that Mt. Somers Springburn School school has participated in our annual all-age reading event, which is designed to promote the benefits of reading. About a dozen families and a few grandparents ventured out on the wet May evening to attend school activities coordinated by year 3 and 4 teacher Valerie Ashton. A swap-a-book table was set up and the sale of hot chocolates raised about $80 towards the school library fund.

"It was a good night," says Sean. "We got books from the school library and brought them into our multipurpose room. People were in there, with the heaters on. It was nice to see families spending time reading together and children celebrating reading."

The school's library is very small but is an important asset for the school, which is more than a half hour's drive to the nearest public library in Ashburton.

Mt. Somers Springburn School is a year 1-8 rural school set in the foothills of Mid Canterbury at the mouth of the Ashburton Gorge.


Book group members Raewyn Millar (L) and Janice Sewell (far right) deliver a prize to Book Night runner-up Sean Wansbrough, principal of Mt Somers Springfield School. On Sean's immediate left is teacher Valerie Ashton, who organised activities at the school as part of the nationwide reading event run by BDS in May.

Families enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of Book Night at the school.

Photos courtesy of Mt Somers Springburn School

 

Old MacDonald leads to pre-schooler's win

An interest in farm equipment and animals helped Waikato pre-schooler Jett Wait win first prize in Book Night, our annual nationwide reading event for all ages.

The 3-year old from Pirongia, located about half an hour south of Hamilton, won the under-16 years category and received $75 in book vouchers. Jett's mother, Lisa-Marie, nominated Pirongia Playcentre to receive the other part of the prize: $100 in book vouchers. Jett attends the playcentre three days a week.

"I showed Jett [on the Book Night website] that kids around New Zealand were reading books and I said 'go and choose your favourite book'," says Lisa-Marie, a part-time social worker at Hamilton hospital.

"He chose Old MacDonald Had a Farm so we read that together," she says.

Te Awamutu BDS member Margaret Mansell, convenor of TEAWA 006, agreed to represent BDS and prize sponsor Chreos Business Solutions and travel across to Pirongia to award the prizes.

More than 2100 readers of all ages, from Northland to Stewart Island, joined in the May event, run by BDS. 

Jett's one-year old brother Rocco joined him in the event, leaving little time for mum to do much reading of her own.

"We've got heaps of books; we really love reading...but, as I was saying to my husband on the night, I haven't finished a book in such a long time," says Lisa Marie.

"For me, reading's relaxation. For the boys, it's education; it's around word identification, identifying things in the pictures and building their interest. Their books centre round diggers and tractors and farms!" she says.

BDS adopted the Book Night concept from the UK three years and uses it as a platform to promote reading and its benefits. More than 30 schools, libraries and other organisations ran associated activities this year.

"Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child's future success, so I'm thrilled that Jett and his brother are being encouraged in the habit," says the manager of Book Discussion Scheme, Barbara Brown.

"We know from research that regular reading is a key way to improve children's abilities. It's also been shown to reduce stress and to maintain brain function in older people," she says.

Super hero reader:
Book Night under-16 years winner Jett Wait (centre), from Pirongia, holds on to the $75 book voucher prize he received from local book-group member Margaret Mansell (pictured right) on behalf of Book Discussion Scheme and prize sponsor Chreos Business Solutions. With them is Pirongia Playschool representative Mikki McLeod (far left) and Jett's mum Lisa-Marie; the centre was nominated to receive $100 in vouchers.

Photo courtesy of Lisa-Marie Wait.

 

Leading Reading - student book groups

NZATE_thumb.jpg

BDS offers high schools a student book-group programme for the first part of the academic year. Fifteen student groups are operating this year, including an all-boys group at Sancta Maria College in Auckland. The NZ Association for the Teaching of English (NZATE) published an article about the college's groups in their new e-zine. "Leading Reading" is in two sections below.

capture1            nzate2

 

Commemorative pin marks silver

A cupcake and specially made commemorative pin were given to members of group AUCK 058 to mark the 25th anniversary of their group.

All twelve current members of the West Auckland group, plus special guest Hillary Barnes, the group's founding convener, attended a lunch on 30 May. They held their regular monthly meeting first (of course!) before launching into their daytime celebrations.

"Pauline Hingston gave everyone a chocolate bar as well as a commemorative pin, beautifully made her husband Neil," says Jenny.

"As well as a tasty lunch and glass of wine, the group were given a delicious cupcake served on a silver plate by Jill Townsend."  

Jill and Pauline are both founding members of the group, which was originally formed by a number of women who played badminton together. 

Jenny sent in this photo of their time together.

Clockwise from rear: Jenny Bosley (standing), Pauline Hingston, Paddy Waymouth, Jill Townsend, Pat Rear, Lorraine Wilson, Sharon Armstrong, Frances Moulden, Janine Pyne, Flo Schubert, Sue Davison and Hillary Barnes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It takes a Village to foster reading

Lilliput Libraries are a Dunedin phenomenon but the concept has spread to Canterbury, thanks to a BDS staff member and her local Presbyterian church.

Annie Boardman, who works part-time at BDS despatching book parcels to book groups, spearheaded the establishment of two swap-a-book containers at sites owned by The Village church in Christchurch. The tiny 'libraries' - one in Bryndwr and one soon to open in Papanui -  are stocked with donated books that can be exchanged by readers from the community. 

"We officially opened [the Bryndwr library] in November with a wee celebration with the children who attend our Kids Club," says Annie.  "We had a book worm cake."

Lilliput Libraries are the brainchild of Ruth Arnison. More than 140 of the libraries have been set up in suburbs in the wider Dunedin area. They are designed to encourage reading and are caretakered by individuals or groups. Books on offer cater for adults and children.

Unfortunately there was a glitch soon after the Bryndwr Lilliput Library was opened but it is now fully operational.

"We had an excellent 24 hours of borrowing before the library was vandalised," she says. "We now have a much more robust, reinforced library and, we hope, an indestructible plinth for it to rest on."

Annie is delighted with the first week of ‘business’, during which 63 children’s books and 17 adult books were borrowed.

BDS has helped support this initiative through donations of cancelled books from the Scheme.

"I acknowledge and thank you very much for the wonderful supply of books you have given us," she says.

The Papanui-based Lilliput Library is decorated and nearly ready to go; it awaits its concrete plinth, to avoid a repeat of what happened in Bryndwr. 

To see photos of The Village library on the official Lilliput Library website, see https://lilliputlibraries.wordpress.com/

 

Two young readers check out the contents of the Bryndwr Lilliput library.

The book worm cake made specially for the library's opening.

 

 

Sight impairment no reason to avoid book club

Having poor eyesight doesn’t mean you can’t be part of a book group, according to a Far North reader Jean Dowson.

Jean coordinates a Book Discussion Scheme book group that has been going for 22 years and has seen one long-term member, Jenny MacMurdie, transition to using audio books as a way to maintain her involvement.

“Jenny didn’t want to leave the group, because it’s a friendship group as much as anything else!” says Jean.

“She’s been an avid member of our book group for I can’t remember how long, so this has meant she could participate so much more.”

Each time a book parcel arrived from the BDS office, Jean let Jenny know what title the group was reading next. Jenny would then contact the Blind Foundation and receive an audio version to listen to, which would allow her to be familiar with the book by the next meeting of the group and join in discussions about it.

“I would highlight the books that she could get from the Blind Foundation and we put those titles as priorities on our group’s booklist,” explains Jean.

Her all-female book group has drawn its members from rural locations on the outskirts of Whangarei. They are all affiliated with the University of the Third Age and travel up to forty minutes to get together for their once-a-month, Thursday afternoon book discussions. Those who no longer drive, car-pool with the ‘younger’ retirees.

“We’re all widely scattered but people make the effort. We have a very, very tight friendship,” says Jean.

To help book groups identify titles that BDS and the Blind Foundation have in common, the catalogues of both organisations have been cross-referenced. About 40% of BDS titles are available as audio books, many of which are the Scheme’s more popular and recent titles.

These titles are identified in the printed version of the BDS Catalogue with an ear symbol. Groups can search the online catalogue, in the Books section of the BDS website, using the category ‘Blind Foundation book’.

An arrangement between the two organisations means Blind Foundation members do not pay a membership fee to be part of a BDS book group. 

“I think it’s wonderful you are now doing this,” says Jean. “We’re really, really impressed by your service.”

Unfortunately for Jean, Jenny has recently relocated to Auckland to be closer to family members. She hopes to connect with a new BDS book group there.

Convenor Jean Dowson (wearing a birthday rosette, not an electionering one!)

 


Members at a recent meeting:

 

 

 

Your feedback counts

 

Member's feedback about BDS books and discussion notes is vital. Book groups' comments - whether positive or 'constructive' - help the scheme to maintain a quality selection of titles and to produce discussion notes that are functional and of a high standard.

As most book groups will be well aware, the consignment note that accompanies each book parcel has a space at the bottom for comments. A large number of convenors take the opportunity to supply BDS with a couple of sentences that sum up their group's opinion of their latest book.

BDS manager Barbara Brown makes a point of reading these comments, to gauge whether members are responding well to a particular author, topic or genre. Typical or representative comments are added to the online and printed versions of the BDS Catalogue, to assist other groups with selecting their booklist.

"When reviews and comments about a book are pretty consistent, then that's a really good indication that it's being well received by groups - or widely panned!" says Barbara. "That helps me with decisions such as the level of book stock and what titles I might recommend to groups looking for a particular genre."

Annually, BDS groups have the opportunity to vote for their most popular title in the scheme. In the running for top spot this year (as at early August) are non-fiction titles A Long Way Home and The Spark.

However, Barbara explains that a consistent rating by groups is not the only criteria for assessing the 'success' of a book - or the whole collection.

"One book group's '10 out of 10' book choice can be another group's 'why is this book in the scheme?" she says. "The key is to offer a diverse collection of genres, authors, topics and writing styles so that our collection appeals to a wide range of readers."

She goes on to explain that differing opinions within a group can be advantageous, as it can fuel more animated discussion. The discussion notes provided by BDS also play a role in helping achieve this.

"Producing discussion notes that assist a wide range of book groups can be tricky," says Barbara. "Groups can respond quite differently, depending on whether they are more literary in their approach or meeting in a more social setting," says Barbara. 

As an example, she highlights The Color of Water, a non-fiction account of a Baptist minister in a mixed race marriage. The notes received disparate feedback from groups: a North Island group commented that the notes were 'particularly good' while a Canterbury group described them as 'pompous'.

Booknote organiser, Shelagh, says the quality of book notes has greatly improved in recent years because the production process has become a lot more rigorous. Added to that, comments from book groups about the booknotes help determine where further improvements may be required.

"Notes are well scrutinised and well proofread during their production," says Shelagh. 

There is also a greater emphasis on offering helpful discussion questions, she explains.

"Feedback is helpful, regardless of whether it's positive or not so," says Barbara. "The variety of points of view help make the scheme what it is - and we hope to continue generating great discussion for many years to come!"

BDS hopes to offer convenors the option of writing their groups' comments online, using mobile devices and computers, by early 2018.  

 

 

 

 

When is a question a ‘good’ question?

 When is a question a ‘good’ question?

New Zealand author Tina Shaw is one of 22 Book Discussion Scheme notewriters who are faced with crafting ‘good’ questions and informative material for discussion booklets for the 60-plus new titles that are incorporated into the scheme each year.  

“The main thing is that a question is open-ended,” explains Tina. “The idea is to spark some discussion and get people thinking about things. I try to draw our readers’ personal responses to a book and how they might have related to a book in a personal way.”

Tina enjoys doing research and includes in her discussion notes information that she anticipates will assist readers’ understanding and appreciation of the book.

“It’s an exploratory process,” says the former Creative New Zealand writer in residence and current convenor of a BDS book group in Taupo.

“I like to add extra material. I make intensive notes as I go through the book. I’m reading quite slowly, note-taking and more note-taking as I go,” she says.

“I’m thinking ‘if it was me sitting in a book group with these book notes, I’d like to know about such-and-such’. If it’s an area I don’t know anything about … well maybe New Zealand readers won’t know much either,” she explains.

In some instances this might mean Tina includes a broad overview of a topic relating to the book, such as outlining the political context of the time. In other cases she has given details about a specific reference in a book, such as explaining what haiku is (a form of poetry).  

Notewriters are contracted by BDS and are given the choice of which new title to the scheme they would like to write material for. Tina is a professional writer and manuscript assessor; other contractors include journalists and teachers.

The usual format for discussion notes includes an author bio, some background to the story or topic covered by the book, and up to a dozen questions for groups to choose from to jump-start discussion.

“I’ve done heaps and heaps of discussion notes. I allow 4 to 5 days, maybe a week, to write them,” says Tina.

“Once I've finished reading the book I like to jump straight into writing them ‘cos it’s fresh in my mind!” she says.

The completed notes are then submitted to BDS Booknotes Organiser, Shelagh, who oversees the process of note production. All notes are double-checked for accuracy (for example, that page references are correct) and for conformity to BDS style.

The next step is to print the discussion notes in-house. They are given a laminated cover, to ensure longevity and enable them to be cleaned. The whole process, from contracting a note-writer to having the completed discussion notes available to book groups can take up to 3 months.

As to what makes a ‘good’ book, Tina and her Taupo group prefer to get their literary teeth into something complex, whether it be fiction or non-fiction.

“We really love reading complex, sophisticated books - something that you can get really engrossed in and that makes you think. That’s the ideal combination.”

“Mind you, I also like reading crime novels,” she says, laughing.


Tina Shaw is one of 22 people contracted to BDS to write discussion notes for titles in the scheme.  A sample of one is shown above.

 

 

The life journey of a barcode

When a box of sparkling new books arrives at the Sydenham office of Book Discussion Scheme, not all staff view the arriving package with the full reverence it deserves!

One such person is our administrator Cherie Gordon, who, with a slight note of sarcasm in her voice (she deals with hundreds of incoming new books on a regular basis!) often quips: "Yippee, another lot to barcode". 

It's a 'cradle to grave' job for Cherie, as she is also responsible for repairing books that suffer wear and tear or a bit of maltreatment by 'recalcitrant' book group members! However, although she is a whizz with a glue brush and the book press, she is unable to work miracles on books that have come to grief at the hands of pets ...bottles of wine...or other such calamities!

In her heart of hearts, Cherie really does enjoy seeing the new titles - as well as replacement and additional copies of existing titles - delivered from our warehouse suppliers. 

So what exactly happens to a book to make it book-group ready? Here's a step by step illustrated explanation:

1. Barcode sticker

We have sheets of barcode stickers, each with unique numbers and black lines on them. Cherie selects the appropriate sticker and places it on the top right-handside of the back cover of each new book. 

A non-fiction book has a barcode starting with 'N'; fiction has a barcode starting with 'F'. The 6 figure code is unique to the book. The last 4 numbers are always 1796 and indicate that the books are from Book Discussion Scheme.

Common question:

Q. Why does the sticker cover up writing sometimes?

A. The placement of the sticker is consistent (ie. in the same place on each book in the scheme), to allow ease of scanning the books and to avoid confusion with the retail barcode preprinted on the books. Our despatch staff use a computerised inventory system to record the books that are going out to (and returning from) every book group. 

 

2. Cover me up, I'm naked!

Every book in the scheme is handled many, many times during its lifespan. To help keep the books robust and clean, every book is laminated in a special non-yellowing self-adhesive covering. Volunteers trim and cover every book. There are usually 3 separate pieces on each book; which makes the spine sturdy.    

When a book is ready to go out to book groups, it is scanned in as an item of  'stock'.


Ex-librarian Pat Norton volunteers some of her time during the week to cover incoming books to the Scheme. 

 

3. Voila! 

When you receive your parcel or bag of books, the consignment note (the printed sheet accompanying the books) lists all the barcodes of the books that have been scanned out to your group.

So barcodes make managing our book collection efficient and can help make your book-group life easier!

Q. Why do you recommend writing names by the barcodes?

A. We suggest writing the name of the recipient of a book by the barcode applicable to that book. That way, if there's any need to identify who had which book (or who still has an outstanding book), it's easy for you to do so. Our staff scan incoming books, so we know which books - if any - are still with your and your group.

 

One of our computerised barcode scanners, used for recording incoming and outgoing books.

 

 A sample of a consignment note that accompanies every book parcel. The barcodes of the books allocated to a group are listed on it.

 

Facts:

As at 6 April 2017, we have 927 titles in the scheme: 641 fiction and 286 non-fiction.

We stock a total of 44, 970 books in our Christchurch office.

 

 

 

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The Book Discussion 
Scheme is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations in Aotearoa New Zealand
BDS is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations
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