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Ten local residents, kids and adults, have collaborated on writing a book about creating book clubs

RITA A. LEONARD - Here are half of the ten Inner Southeast authors of the new book Reading Together. From left: Ann Delahanty, Michelle McCann, Ronan McCann, Owen Lowe-Rogstad, and Dana Lowe-Rogstad. They were photographed at the books launch party on July 16th. Sellwood's award-winning children's author Michelle McCann has worked as a book editor and writer for over thirty years. Over the past decade she has also teamed up with five local moms and their kids in a monthly book club — encouraging them all not only to explore books and love reading, but also to believe in their own personal writing skills.

McCann remarked to THE BEE, "Portland's famous author Beverly Cleary began her career in fourth grade, when a teacher encouraged her to enter a writing contest sponsored by a local grocery store. She won the contest, and learned that anyone could succeed if they put their mind to it. We have a very literate neighborhood here — both of readers, and of writers."

The moms in the local book club include Professor Ann Delahanty, social worker Kristin Doherty, lawyer Lissa Kaufman, former teacher Dana Lowe-Rogstad, and author Michelle McCann, all of whom live in Inner Southeast. The "kid authors" involved are: Noah Brown, Dominic de Bettencourt, Luci Doherty, Owen Lowe-Rogstad, and Ronan McCann.

The group's new book — and it is a real book, published by Chronicle Books, in July — is entitled, "Reading Together: Share in the Wonder of Books with a Parent-Child Book Club". In it, the authors follow a group of five local moms and their teenagers who met together monthly. McCann reported, "We met when our kids were in Kindergarten at Winterhaven School, where classroom book discussions were a favorite part of instruction. We continued until they graduated from Cleveland High School, and went on to college".

Some of the young authors met at McCann's home in Sellwood recently to talk with THE BEE. Owen remarked that what he liked was, "The encouragement to read new books that I wouldn't ordinarily have chosen." Ronan enjoyed the discussions in the club, and "having the ability to discuss my favorite parts."

And from among the five moms, Ann told us, "I loved watching the kids develop over the years", and Dana revealed, "We moms first ran the club, but the kids developed engaging discussions, and eventually they ran the show. [In writing the book,] we talked about lists of things we had done, what worked, and what did not. All ten authors contributed to the writing!" McCann reflected, "Sharing all these amazing books and discussions and deep talks was a gift I was not expecting." Filled with insight and inspiration, the new book includes details of organizing and structuring book club meetings, tips on locating diverse books, choosing titles to spur discussion, common book club challenges and how to overcome them, and more. McCann observed, "We've also included curated booklists and recommendations. Kids have very distinct tastes. We walked through a list of 100 books, commenting on which we liked or didn't, and why."

"Reading Together" promises a stronger parent-child bond — and can be a perfect gift for bookish parents, and parents of bookish children, but also for parents trying to encourage reluctant readers. The book's launch was held July 16 at the "Trackers Earth" facility at 4617 S.E. Milwaukie Avenue in Brooklyn. It's available through any bookseller.

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