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Gahanna 3rd graders start book club to stay connected during pandemic

The girls coordinated to meet at each other’s houses once a month, wearing a mask and picking a book to discuss.

GAHANNA, Ohio — A group of third graders at a Gahanna elementary school found a way to stay connected through the pandemic by creating a book club, meeting while masked once a month.

The girls, Cece Manket, Charlotte McCullough, Meredith Sell, Ava Lee, Everley Hannah and Priya Vyas, met in their first-grade class in 2020.

Spending time together in the classroom changed when the pandemic hit in March. That’s when some of the girls got the idea of starting a book club so they could see one another and still learn.

“I love reading, I really wanted to try to have fun with my friends more because I really didn’t get to do that anymore,” said now third grader Meredith Sell.

“I always really wanted a book club, but when the pandemic started, I knew that I wanted to get us all together,” said Pryia Vyas.

The girls then coordinated to meet at each other’s houses once a month, wearing a mask and picking a book to discuss.

Their teacher, Jill Ovies, said she’s never seen one of her first grade classes take their learning into their own hands in this way.

“You know, it’s a difficult time in our world and I was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s such a positive beautiful thing that’s happening,” Ovies said.

Vyas and Sell brainstormed how to make the book club work after seeing family members gather to discuss books they’ve read.

“My sister started a book club and COVID wasn’t here yet and she kind of stopped it because of COVID and I really got the idea because Priya said that she wanted to do a book club,” Sell said.

Vyas said the girls will take tests and quizzes in their discussions to improve their knowledge of the books they read.

“Pretend I brought this book in. I would say I like this book because it’s funny and it’s about Sophie and she meets this bird with a broken wing and I’ve never read it, or, like, maybe I have read it and I think you guys would like it and then someone else usually has a book and we would vote on which book we want to read,” Vyas said.

The group has gone strong for two years now and plan on continuing through the pandemic as safely as possible.

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