League of extraordinary boys and girls – a book-lover’s perspective

OPRAH WINFREY has it. Schools have them. Naturally, the National Library Board runs one. We are, of course, talking about book clubs. But in this multimedia age of videos, audio clips and digital photos, how can we give the book club a new lease on life?

Below are three possible adaptations of the book club centered on teens. Any of these can complement book clubs run from your home or in schools.

But there are several rules for a feasible teen-friendly club. Firstly, the club should be run by teens for teens. Further, food must be supplied and the menu planned by teens. Last but not least, parents have veto power over all rules but must use them judiciously so as not to exasperate the teens. Ideally, parents should be heard but not seen.

The Movie Mavericks Club
Movie scripts and screenplays are full of inspiring prose. Film noirs embracing the social ills of their era offer many contemporary lessons on folly and wisdom for teens. For the lawyer in your teen, follow the intense exchange between Navy lawyer Lt. Daniel Kaffee and the imposing Col. Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men. If your teen wants to stock up on leadership rhetoric, check out President Whitmore’s rallying of a ragged band of survivors against alien invaders in Independence Day.


  • The movie critic: Club members watch a selected movie with subtitles turned on and read the script which is downloaded from the Internet. Then, each of them writes a movie review article and shares it in the meeting or in their blogs.
  • Script-reading sessions: Members act out the movie script for an entire movie or selected scenes, each taking on a role and their character’s lines.
  • Print-to-movie: Club members read novels which have been translated into movie screenplays or novels originated from movie screenplays. They then discuss their opinions of how the story is treated in the movie and in the book.
  • Change the script: Members give their take on a movie script such as providing alternative endings.

The Photogeneric Club
Members are required to own a digital camera. Phone cameras are perfectly fine because the idea is to tell a story with images and photos. Staple reading materials in the club include magazines, biographies, illustrated novels and comic books. Activities:
  • Neighborhood newshound: Members read and discuss articles in magazines such as Life, Time and National Geographic for ideas and techniques. They capture images of amusing and newsworthy happenings in their neighborhood and develop photo-captioned stories. Members may choose to submit well developed pieces to the local newspaper.
  • My life in fiction: Members collaborate on the script and storyboard, and create a fictitious story in comic book or illustrated novel format using photos of themselves as panels. If the comic book format is used, dialogue and narrative text should be written, and text balloons inserted on relevant cropped photos using image editing software. Story ideas and techniques can be obtained from published comic books and illustrated novels.

Don’t-forget-the-script Club
Riding on the popularity of its namesake game show, members study song lyrics and learn to appreciate the stories behind the lyrics and the way they are expressed. Parents should exercise caution by reviewing song selection and winnowing out songs with inappropriate lyrics i.e. songs that glorify death, drugs and debauchery. Activities:
  • The game show: Replicating the game show format, members take turns to be participants. Before each meeting, parents and a couple of members prepare the challenge and the prizes. Typically, the top prize would not match the US$1 million offered in the real show.
  • Wax lyrical: Members engage in lyrics-only conversations using or singing lines from song lyrics in response to each other.
  • Who wrote it: Members gather information about the life stories and songwriters behind selected songs before discussing the selected song lyrics. A karaoke session could kick start the discussion.
  • The songwriter in me: Using tunes from selected songs, members attempt to rewrite the lyrics or write a song based on their own life. In rewriting songs, their understanding of what the songwriters went through and why the song was written in the first place would evoke caring, empathy and compassion.


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