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Every week, a gaggle of girls gathers to gab in the library, surrounded by tales modern and classic meant to inspire them. And recently, West Sedona School’s fifth- and sixthgrade girls book club got a little extra cash to check out even more yarns.

Led by volunteer Melissa Schrader, they started this year with Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games.” Schrader said she was inspired by how the girls in her club responded to reading a book with a strong female character at the center. 

“They really got it, and they were so excited that there was a younger girl, you know, someone they could identify with,” she said.

They’ve also read “Island of the Blue Dolphins,”  “Julie of the Wolves” and are now reading “Little Women.”

“I get feedback from the kids about what they want,” Schrader said; one student asked if they could read “The Wizard of Oz,” and Schrader’s also looking at “A Wrinkle in Time” as their next book. “Right now, I beg, borrow and steal from everyone I can,” Schrader said, since the school doesn’t have funding to spare for the book club. She visits garage sales and used book stores, including the Friends of the Sedona Library bookstore, and collaborates with Big Park Community School’s librarian to gather up enough books for her girls.

But having a $500 grant makes planning their next book a little easier.

Susan McGuire Bailey, who helps out with book club and is West Sedona’s Title I teacher and data coach, found the grant through the Yavapai County Education Foundation.

“I spend about an hour every day researching, writing and applying for grants,” McGuire Bailey said.

For this grant, her application focused on how the book club empowers young girls to read.

The grant will go toward buying book sets for the club, and it will benefit the school in the long-term, since the books will stay in the library once the club is done reading.

McGuire Bailey is starting a second book club for girls in third and fourth grade in the next couple weeks. They’ll meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and their first book will be the first installment of Chris Colfer’s “The Land of Stories” series.

And, like with Schrader’s girls, they’ll share their thoughts about characters they relate to in a safe, open environment. “No idea is a bad idea,” McGuire Bailey said. “Everyone has a voice and can be heard.”

This is an installment in an occasional series about supplementary public school funding.

Rebekah Wahlberg can be reached at 282-7705 ext. 117, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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