Ex Libris feeds the need to read


Reagan Wilkins

Jan. 29, 2016 – Ex Libris members kick back and relax at the Read-a-Thon. Ex Libris hosts this event annually as a way to raise money for literary charities. This year, students read to raise money for Books for Africa.

Daniella Vivas, Staff writer

As the first lunch bell rings, junior Alexandria Thomas and her friends head to the media center to enjoy the privilege of eating while embracing their hobby of reading at Feed Your Need to Read. “I was excited to participate in the activities they had there and also be with my friends at the same time,” Thomas said.

For the second year in a row, media specialist Leigh Anne Hanie and the Ex Libris book club hosted Feed Your Need to Read week, held on Jan. 27-29.

Hanie began the event to promote reading beyond the members of the book club with author visits and giveaways. This year, young adult authors Romily Bernard and Christine Deriso were guest speakers on Thursday and Friday to discuss writing with students.

Hanie’s motive behind creating this opportunity for students was to “promote the culture of reading.” To do this, she extended the invitation to all students, not just Ex Libris members.

Jan. 28, 2016 - Romily Bernard, author of last month's Ex Libris book choice“Find Me,” answers students’ questions while they eat lunch in the media center during “Feed Your Need to Read” week.
Reagan Wilkins
Jan. 28, 2016 – Romily Bernard, author of last month’s Ex Libris book choice “Find Me,” answers students’ questions while they eat lunch in the media center during Feed Your Need to Read week.

Bernard, author of last month’s Ex Libris book choice “Find Me,” said she always makes sure to stop by when someone from the area contacts her.“Getting to meet an author helps kids realize we are real people,” Bernard said, “not just some special unicorn.”

She published “Find Me” after nine months of writing and four months of revising and editing. She said editing was one of the more difficult processes, but “through pains, there is improvement.”

Spanish teacher Jaye O’Brien contacted Deriso, her childhood friend, to speak during “Feed Your Need to Read” week. Deriso said she “wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

O’Brien and Deriso grew up together in West Point, attending the same middle school. During this time, Deriso realized her dream was to “write and have my voice heard.”

Deriso always knew she wanted to write. She attended the University of Georgia, earning a degree in journalism. She felt like that gave her a way to write and produce what she loves. “I don’t remember a time not wanting to write,” Deriso said.

Deriso told students that “all you need to be a writer is your imagination.”  Bernard gave similar advice. “Don’t worry about whether or not your writing is good enough or if people are going to like it,” Bernard said. “Don’t be afraid of the blank page.”  

Ex Libris advertised “Feed Your Need to Read” week by displaying posters in English classrooms and in the media center to increase attendance.
Erin Schilling
Ex Libris advertised Feed Your Need to Read week by displaying posters in English classrooms and in the media center to increase attendance.

Bernard and Deriso both explained their personal experiences with the challenges and advantages of becoming a published author.

Second year attendee, junior Madison Martin, especially liked “how the author and I could have an actual conversation when answering our questions about getting published,” Martin said.

By having authors visit, Hanie hopes students “see how ordinary people are published authors.”

The Feed Your Need to Read week culminated with the annual Ex Libris Read-a-Thon event Friday night, which was exclusive for club members.

Readers curled up with blankets and books after school and read until 10 p.m. for charity. Ex Libris president Lydia Powell thinks that “more students should attend because it is a relaxing event. It’s great to be able to sit, focus and read.”

Beforehand, students raised money by asking family, friends and faculty to sponsor them. Sponsoring includes either a one time donation or pledging an amount per page read.   

These donations gathered by participants after the Read-a-Thon go toward a literary charity chosen by the Ex Libris officers. This year, the money is going to Books for Africa, which is a charity that provides relief for “book famine” for children in Africa.

“The best thing about the Read-a-Thon is being with friends while reading,” sophomore Marleena Tamminen said, “and also knowing that it’s for a good cause.”

Even six years after creating the Read-a-Thon, Hanie’s purpose for conducting the event remains the same. “I want students to meet like-minded people,” Hanie said.