MAME Summer Book Club: The Gift of Story by John Schu

Summer is a great time to catch up on reading.  So when the Michigan Association of Media in Education (MAME) shared they were hosting a virtual summer book club I was all in!  

The Book

The title that was chosen is the new book by John Schu called The Gift of Story: Exploring the Affective Side of the Reading Life.  This book defines what story is through the voices of many well-known educators and children’s book creators.  It goes to the heart of why stories matter and why we connect to stories in the way that we do.  Each chapter is dedicated to one of the five affective elements of a story.  Describing a story as healer, inspiration, clarifier, compassion, and connector.  Additionally, within each chapter, there is a section called “Mr. Shu Suggests” which includes book suggestions related to that element and how they could be shared with students.  

The Book Club Plan

I did not create the plan for this book club.  Two other amazing school librarians and MAME members, Klaudia Janek and Amanda Davies are responsible for this plan.  I felt it was so good it was worth sharing!  

First, they started by sharing this Smore.  This explained everything that the book club would include.  This is a free professional development opportunity that could provide a total of five continuing education hours in the state of Michigan for those who complete all of the requirements.  Participants will also earn a digital MAME PD badge upon completion.  The only thing we needed was to get our own copy of the book. 

The requirements include: 

  • 3 half-hour Zoom discussion on each of the 5 elements in the book (healer, inspiration, clarifier, compassion, and connector)
  • 7 half-hour asynchronous activities including Padlet discussion and sharing of book talks
  • Course exit survey with implementation ideas

Amanda and Klaudia broke it down into a six-week plan focusing on one chapter each week.  There are three virtual meetings using Zoom.  All of the other reflections are done using a Padlet.  

The Padlet

The Padlet is organized into columns based on each chapter.  The questions to guide the discussions are listed at the top of each column.  Then we have been using different colors to show what questions are being answered so it is easy to search through the responses if you are looking for something specific.  Participants are encouraged to respond to each other’s posts as well. 

Thoughts so Far

One of the participants in our first meeting said it best, “This is just the type of book I needed right now.  I needed some joy and hope and this book has made it easy to find.”  Most of the participants shared how the challenges of the past two years have caused their jobs to shift away from focusing on sharing a love of reading with their students.  This book gave them motivation, ideas, and strategies to get back to that.  

If you could see my copy it is currently covered in sticky notes in every direction.  I have notes to myself, notes about ideas I would like to share with others, and quotes that really stuck with me.  The quote I keep coming back to is, “We are in the business of health” (Schu, 18).  This section is referencing the work of Dr. Sayantani DasGupta in her blog post called “Stories Are Good Medicine: Literacy, Health, and Representation”.  I have never thought of our work related to health before, but now I continue to find connections.  The impact stories can have from stress relief to a deep feeling of value and understanding makes me see this idea in a new way. 

I am excited for your next opportunity to chat with each other and cannot wait to find someone whose heart needs a copy of this book (Schu, 49) after I am finished reading it!


Schu, J. (2022). The gift of story: Exploring the affective side of the reading life. Stenhouse Publishers.


Author: Kelly Hincks

I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).

Categories: Literacy, Professional Development

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