Staff Report

As part of the Goleta and Santa Ynez Valley Libraries, the Solvang Library is pleased to launch a new virtual Book Club for Kids. The Book Club is open to kids ages 9-12 in the Santa Ynez and Goleta Valley areas. The Book Club for Kids will meet two Wednesday afternoons per month at 4 p.m. The first online meeting is this Wednesday, September 15, followed by Wednesday, September 29. The goal of the group is to have fun exploring new books, new ideas, and different perspectives.

The featured book for the new Book Club for Kids will be Prairie Lotus, by Linda Sue Park, related titles will also be presented. Readers who want to join in shouldn’t worry about whether they managed to read the book before the meeting. Signups and more information can be found here, or by calling the Solvang Library at 805 688-4214. Copies of the featured book can be checked out at Solvang Library or use the library catalog to have a copy held for you at another library branch.

Dr. Anne Jansen, a long-time local library enthusiast, helped to bring this program to young readers and is thrilled to be a Book Moderator for the new Book Club. Jansen grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley and has loved its libraries since she was a child. She earned her PhD in English about a decade ago and has been teaching multiethnic literature at the university level ever since. Now that she’s back on the Central Coast, she’s excited to celebrate the magic of books with young readers. Jansen will be joined by Carey McKinnon, Solvang Library’s longtime branch supervisor.

Dr. Anne Jansen

“Connection is so important, and we are in such a disconnected moment right now. Getting young readers together to talk about books is a way to foster connection and create space for community during a challenging time.  Also, I love to geek out over books,” Jansen said. “Being able to talk with others about the things we love—in this case, books—is an amazing thing. I would have loved the opportunity to be part of a group like this as a kid, and I hope to help young readers share or grow their love of reading with their peers.”

She added, “Many of the books we’ll be sharing are multicultural, and that is especially exciting. We live in a world where people are finally starting to realize the importance of diversity. Studies have shown that reading increases empathy, so to read stories about characters from different backgrounds can have a very meaningful impact on young readers. Perhaps some of our readers will even see people like them in these stories, and that can be a powerful thing! I remember the first time I realized literature could be about people like me—it literally changed the course of my life”

For more information on programs and services at the Goleta and Santa Ynez Valley Libraries, visit