By Conor Hernon, Riverside apprentice and actor
The Riverside Center for Education hosted its first book club meeting on November 29, 2016 and apprentices are currently racking up points for the next gathering, which will take place February 13.
These points are earned by reading books from a list. The values are based on level of difficulty, cultural significance, intensity of meaning in the story and age level. Riverside Director Peter Searby started the program with the hope that all Tutorial apprentices will develop a “great passion” for reading.
“Some people read because it comes natural to them. Others need a community that is invested in reading stories because they can share what they have read. Some boys like the competitive element of winning prizes,” Searby said.
Boys who earn a certain amount of points by a deadline are able to attend the meetings which are nights of board games, friendship, and choosing prizes. Those with the most points go first. Some of the choices have been daggers, Roman coins, baked goods, sets of books, and tickets to see Rogue One, a Star Wars story.
Searby says reading is important because it opens our imaginations to a greater view of reality.
“Through reading we enter into memories, stories and feelings that are not our own. Therefore, we gain a grander perspective of what it means to be human. Reading great books takes us on adventures we could never take: fighting alongside Robin Hood in Sherwood, sailing the sea with Captain Blood or entering into new worlds full of mystery like Middle Earth,” he said.
Riverside is an Imaginative Outpost; Storytelling is a big component of the flagship program, Tutorial. The apprentices practice world building, sketching, performing through theater and radio, and, of course, reading. But storytelling is not only about the written word.
“There was once a time in Ireland, for example, when there were no books, and the old Bards would memorize mountains of poetry, songs, and stories. They were like walking libraries who kept the memory of their culture alive by handing down the stories to others through an oral tradition. Books and reading are just the means to convey story,” Searby said.
The excitement is building for the second meeting, and the apprentices are anxious to earn enough points for entry and for the prize they covet. Dan Janeiro, Riverside tutor, has been in charge of collecting treasures.
“Mr. Janeiro is a pack rat and saves lots of stuff in his closets…just kidding…kind of,” Searby said.