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Book/Film Club helps nurture faith & confidence in young people

Date: 04 January 2023

A wonderfully creative idea from the Children & Families Team Leader at St Paul’s Tongham is helping to nurture faith and confidence in young people. Pam Welch, who took on the voluntary role of Children & Families Team Leader in December 2019, started “elevate” in September 2022. Stirred by the mental health & cost of living crisis and encouraged by donations from faithful people in St Paul’s Church Tongham, Pam was inspired to start a book club for young people in September last year.

Pam explains how it works, "Elevate involves getting to know young people and choosing books/films which I know will encourage them in their faith and leadership skills. They swap their books/films with me when they see me – this could be in church, at the bus stop, at their home if I’m babysitting or at my front door – and they get a chocolate bar for each book/film they watch. After just two books/films, they receive a moon ball or aerobie (a frisbee) as an added encouragement to keep going. For every book/film they receive a point and they collect an extra point if they send a 1-sentence review. Those with the most points at the end of the year will receive prizes!"

When it started 4 months ago, 13 children joined - this has now increased to 21 young people. Originally designed for Year 6 to Year 9, the club has now expanded to include children in Year 2 through to Year 12. They progress at their own speed – one boy has read 9 books in just four months and all together they have read an amazing 62 books between them! The numbers continue to expand and grow with their library having increased from 19 to 50 books thanks to kind donations of books from Revd Claire Holt, Vicar of St Paul’s as well as other key members of the church. 

"The young people are really engaging. They particularly love the fact that books/films are personally selected for them, as well as the prizes and sense of achievement." Says Pam about the benefits of the club, "it’s a fun and easy way for churches (whatever size) to encourage discipleship at home plus it’s a very positive way to respond to the mental health and cost of living crisis in a way that is environmentally-friendly as we are all sharing the books.

I love reading their reviews – it’s great to see young people digesting content that is genuinely good for the soul, engaging on a deeper level and expressing their own opinions via the reviews.

Recognising that some young people find it hard to read, especially with so much school work, we are now including books on “audible” as well as films on DVD, Netflix and Amazon Prime.’

Emma Coy, the Diocese’s Mission Enabler for Children & Families, writes, ‘This is a fabulous idea and such a great extension to the Bible Heroes Book Club that Pam set up for under tens last year. It takes minimal resource, can easily be run by a volunteer and only requires one young person to get started. Whatever your context, this could be something to consider starting at your church this year. I love it!’

Interested in finding out more? Contact Emma Coy for more information. 

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