Next Chapter Book Clubs: Friends, Fun, and Books

Photo of 3 Next Chapter Book Club members

Next Chapter Book Clubs provide adolescents and adults with disabilities opportunities to enjoy what most book club participants enjoy – books, friends, and social outings.  The clubs have a trained facilitator, but the members make all the decisions in terms of what they read and where they meet.  Due to the pandemic, the clubs are meeting virtually, but members are still enjoying their time together.

When we asked some book club members to share their experiences with us Steven Greiner (SG), Will McMillan (WM), and Andrea Duffy (AD) answered our call.   Steven, Will, and Andrea all participate in the book club associated with Our Place Nashville.  Will is also a member of the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee’s book club.

What do you like most about our book club?
SG:  I love seeing all of my friends.  I love the camaraderie and the fellowship.
WM:  For both clubs, I get to hang out with my longtime friends and also make new friends. I also enjoy reading as a group.
AD:  The book club is very special to me because we get together and have a fun time. We each take a turn reading. We laugh a lot.

What has your favorite book been this year?
SG:  I really like the book we’ve been reading – We Should Hang Out Sometime.  Josh Sundquist talks about his different experiences with girls, and it’s interesting.  There are some cool charts and pictures in the book.
WM:  The Book Thief is my favorite. It’s about history, and I really enjoy history like my brother and sister.
AD:  My favorite book so far is The Pigman. I really liked this book and it had humor.

What has it been like having to meet virtually instead of in-person?
SG:  Ugh.  It’s been alright.  I wish we could do the in-person part, but it’s been fun.  It’s fun seeing everybody.  Some weeks some people couldn’t make it.  But we always seem to join back up.
WM:  Meeting virtually is okay, but I look forward to meeting in person again.
AD:  It is sad we cannot meet in person because of Covid. I loved meeting at the Dozen Bakery before Covid. I liked to get a cup of hot tea to drink during the book club meeting. But we do have a good time doing our book club on Zoom. Our director, Carolyn Naifeh, set this up for us, and it was a great idea!  We still do lots of laughing because the boys are so funny.  I can’t wait until we can go back to the Dozen Bakery again.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
SG:  It’s fun reading books and chilling with friends.  I wasn’t a big reader two years ago, but when we started, my mom said I should try it and I like it.
WM:  I wish there could be more book clubs for people with disabilities around the state. I attended a national conference for Next Chapter several years ago in Chicago and heard what people in other states are doing. There are book clubs in the community, in libraries,  and in other settings. I remember one group that would get together to read plays.
AD:  The book club has helped me to know the others better. Now we are all friends.