Today I met the newly-formed and already-fantastic Horse Book Club at Nantucket Elementary School in Crofton, Md. Nantucket’s school librarian, Ms. Miller, brought together this group of enthusiastic horse-crazy students to read and discuss my book, Believing In Horses, over the next several months. Like so many of our educators out there, Ms. Miller, and her assistant Ms. Clark, have gone beyond their required jobs to create a special learning environment for these readers. Ms. Miller asked if I’d come sign and present the books and talk to the Club on its inaugural day, which of course I happily did.
To make this an ongoing interactive experience, the Club will use a relatively new educational social media platform, Edmodo. According to its creators, “Edmodo promotes anytime, anyplace learning. Functionally, it allows teachers to post messages, discuss classroom topics, assign and grade classwork, share content and materials, and network and exchange ideas with their peers – but in reality, it is so much more.” The librarian established a Believing In Horses group in Edmodo allowing us all to discuss and share ideas virtually. Ms.Miller’s first post: “I hope you will enjoy our book club. Our first task is to find a neat name for our book club. Think about ‘horse’ words and share them with the group.”
But, our Horse Book Club leaders wanted more. Besides meeting weekly and discussing the book on Wednesdays (after all raised their right hands and swore they would not read ahead of the assignments), Ms. Miller thought it would be a good idea to have a mid-book project. So, the Horse Book Club members will be participating in the first annual Voice For The Horse Children’s Writing Competition. The founder of Voice For The Horse, Yvonne Allen, created the writing competition to provide a unique and free learning opportunity and allow children to share their love for horses across North America through their writing. From what I saw in the Horse Book Club’s eyes today, watch out competition!
And finally, the club will conclude its year with a field trip to Loftmar Stables, the backdrop and home to many of the horses in the book. We’ll do some hands on horse work, meet horses, take pictures, and answer final questions. And now it was my turn to make a club assignment: the Horse Book Club will help me put Ms. Miller on a horse for the first time in her life. I believe they can do it!
While assessing why I was so estatic about this Horse Book Club visit today, it hit me that this small group represented so many of the goals I had set when writing this book. Kids are reading and writing; they are sharing their love for horses; and adults are learning more about horses – maybe even becoming horse lovers, too. Thank you, Horse Book Club, for choosing Believing In Horses; it’s a blue ribbon win for me.