Williamsburg Library offers an inclusive book club for young people and adults

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The Williamsburg Library.  (Daily WYPhoto)
The Williamsburg Regional Library offers a reading group for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (WY Daily file)

WILLIAMSBURG – The Williamsburg Regional Library (WRL) continually strives to reach out to all members of the community, one book at a time.

WRL Next Chapter Book Group is a unique community-based program for adolescents and adults with Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The group meets in person once a month at WRL Stryker Center, 412 N Boundary St, where they read together and then discuss the stories and the different characters in the books.

Youth Services Librarian, Linda Niedzwick, has been leading the group since fall 2019.

While the program virtually took place during the pandemic, WRL resumed holding it in person as restrictions were lifted.

Niedzwick said reading skills are not necessary and the program has included participants who are considered non-verbal.

The group is currently made up of six teens and adults with disabilities, and Niedzwick said she hopes to add more.

“Right now we’re reading ‘Disney’s Adventure Stories’ and our next book will be ‘Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol, The Haunted House Next Door’,” she said.

Each participant keeps his copy of the books free of charge.

“We take turns reading the books, so they don’t have to read the books ahead of time,” Niefzwick said. “We encourage social interactions and friendships at our meetings. ”

Next chapter is an international organization that started in 2002 with the mission to give members of the developmental disability community a safe environment to read, learn and make new friends.

From North America to Europe, groups meet at their local public libraries, bookstores or cafes every week or month to read aloud and discuss the books with a facilitator.

According to its website, Next Chapter is the world’s largest community book club program. Anyone can participate, regardless of their reading level or ability.

Besides public libraries, other organizations such as Social service agencies and parent groups have also joined in bringing the program to the communities.

Next Chapter strives to help improve reading skills and socializing. However, unlike a traditional reading course, it focuses on reading to learn rather than learning to read.

This month’s next chapter group of books will meet on Saturday, June 5 at 1 p.m. at the Stryker Center.

For more information, contact Linda Niedzwick at [email protected]

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