Feed Your Need to Read opens portal to joys of reading

Ex+Libris+hosts+its+third+annual+Feed+Your+Need+to+Read+Week+from+Jan.+25-27.+Participants+will+engage+in+various+activities%2C+ranging+from+author+talks+to+arts+and+crafts.+

Shelby Foster

Ex Libris hosts its third annual Feed Your Need to Read Week from Jan. 25-27. Participants will engage in various activities, ranging from author talks to arts and crafts.

Ximena Bejarano, Staff Writer

A book is a portal. A book has the ability of taking its readers into another universe and giving them the valuable opportunity of living in time periods they’ve never been in and places they could never go. A book can divert readers from any fraught responsibilities the real world may demand for as long as they keep it open.

On top of the enjoyment it provides, reading on a regular basis has been shown to have notable effects on the brain. A study performed at Emory University reveals that reading is capable of enhancing an individual’s theory of mind and cognition altogether.

I think it’s a great idea for students to attend because it’s an opportunity to meet others with the same interests as you.”

— junior Madison Martin

With these benefits in mind, reading has proven itself as a worthwhile activity, offering a temporary escape from reality and primarily stimulating growth in one’s brain. In an effort to promote the pleasure of reading among students, Starr’s Mill’s book club, Ex Libris, is hosting its third annual Feed Your Need to Read Week from Jan. 25-27.

Feed Your Need to Read Week is available to all students. Interested students are invited to bring their own food to the media center and enjoy author talks, arts and crafts, book signings, and prize giveaways during all three lunches.

The authors taking part in this year’s Feed Your Need to Read Week include Heather Lyons and Romily Bernard. Lyons, a young adult author from California, will be answering questions from the event’s attendees through Skype on Jan. 26. Romily Bernard, a published author living in Peachtree City, will also be discussing her most successful novel, Find Me, and its sequels in person the following day.

For the majority of attendees, listening to an accomplished author elaborate on the writing process is viewed as a valuable opportunity, especially for those aspiring to become published authors themselves. In the past, attendees have been given various pieces of advice when it comes to the art of writing, such as taking the time to create in-depth characters and construct well thought out plots. “Last year, we had a great discussion about character development,” junior Madison Martin, a third-year attendee, said. “There are great benefits to [Feed Your Need to Read Week] because I have the ability to talk with published authors, and writing is something that I greatly enjoy.”

Like-minded attendees are also able to congregate and get to know each other while partaking in activities planned by the club’s officers and sponsors. “I think it’s a great idea for students to attend because it’s an opportunity to meet others with the same interests as you,” Martin said, “and you get to eat in the library. That doesn’t happen every day.”

Members of Ex Libris will also have the opportunity to participate in this year’s read-a-thon after school on Jan. 27. Every year, the officers and sponsors of Ex-Libris opt for a literary charity to support with money raised during the event. “Our chosen literacy charity [this year] is United Through Reading,” Lela Crowder, the co-sponsor of Ex-Libris, said. “They help deployed military stay in touch with their children by facilitating a reading program.”

In advance of the event, participating members of Ex-Libris are responsible for finding sponsors that are willing to “donate money by assigning a cent value per pages read during the Read-A-Thon,” Erin Rathje, another third-year attendee, said.

Once members have obtained their sponsors, they proceed to enter the media center, grab their warmest blankets, and immerse themselves into a quality novel for several hours as they attempt to read as many pages as possible.

The most exciting part of read-a-thon, however, is toward the end when everyone “totals up their page counts,” Rathje said. “It’s wonderful to see that we can make a difference just through reading.”

From an alternative perspective, Crowder’s favorite part of the event is “seeing kids encounter reading and literacy in a way that doesn’t have to deal with a graded assignment,” Crowder said. “Too often, reading gets reduced to a quantified, graded assignment where students feel like the only end goal is a quiz, test, or project.”

Feed Your Need to Read Week and the read-a-thon seek to eliminate this commonly held perspective toward reading, and encourage students to pick up a book “for the sake of reading,” Crowder said. “We always want to promote reading and encourage everyone to do so for fun and enjoyment.”