Nerdy Girlz Book Club

Nerdy Girlz Book Club encourages young girls to become stronger readers

By Charlotte Beard

Few book clubs have taken off quite like the Nerdy Girlz Book Club. The club, for ages six and up, has garnered quite a bit of attention and been a part of the Annie Malone May Day Parade since its inception in January 2016.

The club has grown from 34 sign-ups to a little over 100 active members. The attention all started when Kennedy Thompson’s older brother, who is incarcerated, wrote a heart-felt letter aiming to help his sister get exposure for her book club. Kennedy, age nine, is the cofounder of the club with her mom Akiba. Kennedy’s proud brother was successful in his endeavors and the public began to take notice. Last year, the Hazelwood School District Board of Education awarded Kennedy with a Kids on the Move! award for her start of the book club.

The club’s mission is to inspire young female readers to become knowledgeable of different people, places, and things, through reading while having fun. The ‘girlz’ meet twice a month on either a prescheduled Saturday or Sunday.

One of the meetings takes place at the Jamestown Bluffs Library or another library; the other meeting day is always a fun day. The club’s next fun day on June 11 will take place at the St. Louis Zoo.

Primarily, the book club requires each girl take a book home for one month and read it throughout the month for discussion at the next meeting. There are questions to help them with reading comprehension, and fun activities that surround the featured book. The book time is followed by their birthday club celebration and snacks.

There is a lifetime membership fee of $30 which includes a backpack filled with fun girl glasses, a water bottle, ink pen, name tag, lapel pin and a certificate that certifies the girl as a member. The $15 monthly fee covers the featured book each girl receives as their own as well as the birthday club celebration and snacks.

Leah Nicholson who handles Nerdy Girlz’ public relations, quite literally stumbled onto the club. “I was in this room [at the library] and [I] walked past and saw these girls with the shirts…I said ‘I want to join. I want to do this, too. What is this?’ So, she [Akiba] started telling us [with friend] about the information. That was in March – we went to our first meeting in March.”

Nicholson, who is also a special education teacher in Ferguson, has various roles with the club. “I do the public speaking. I’m more of the person who can reach out to people like our radio stations because I’m in the school system. I always wear my [Nerdy Girlz] shirt to work. We have girls that don’t have any other activities so this gives [them not only] an opportunity to forge sisterhood with girls, but also to really have a love of reading.”

Club members Kennedy, Laela Gaines (eight-year-old daughter of Nicholson) and Savannah Williams (nine-year-old daughter of assistant director Shonta Harris) all agreed that the club was fun but each had something unique to say about it.

Kennedy confirmed what her co-founding mom said about her not being as shy since she started the club – it helps her to be “more confident no matter what.”

Laela mentioned that she likes having the meetings not just the fun days and Savannah spoke to the help in being able to understand what was read and learning new facts.

All three girls suggested everyone should read at least 20 minutes a day and read more books.

In addition to the Nerdy Girls, Nerdy Boyz will begin June 25. Anyone looking to join the group or wanting more information can e-mail nerdygirlzbookclub@yahoo.com or visit https://www.nerdygirlzbookclub.com.

CUTLINE: Photo by Charlotte Beard Nerdy Girlz Book Club members (from left) Savannah Williams, Laela Gaines and Kennedy Thompson