Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Reading Refresh

Posted 12/12/2022 by Farah Djama

TJ Book Club members gather at the club fair to promote their group and encourage new members. photo by Shana Saint-Phard

TJ Book Club makes reading fun again, one book at a time. 

Thomas Jefferson High School, like many other high schools across Denver, have plenty of student-led clubs. The clubs here at TJ covers a huge variety of interests, from the Creative Writing club to Black Student Alliance to the TJ Classical League; there is even a new Playing Cards Club this year. At TJ, if there is an interest that three people have, it can become a club as long as students can find a faculty sponsor. Of course, a book club is no different. Humans are social creatures, so joining and even making a club to discuss topics with like-minded individuals is simply human nature.  

Junior Caye Cardoza noticed that there wasn’t a book club at TJ, and became inspired to start one. With the support of English teacher Joseph Somrol and Cardoza’s friends, she was able to start the club during the first week of school. Their first meeting was on August 31st, and they’ve had a meeting every Wednesday since. Cardoza states that everyone is welcome, “It’s more like if you want to join, then join! I don’t want the book club to be seen as another English class that we have to get through or for people to think about it as something to get done, so you can write another essay. If anything, I’m open to people coming in to experience it and then leaving if they don’t see what they want to see.”  

Approximately 5 million people are a part of reported book clubs across the nation. The first known “Book Club” was created in the 1600s by a woman named Anne Hutchinson aboard a ship to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, with fellow women who had also shared the interest in examining their weekly sermons. At its foundation, it was a way for people to get together who were like-minded and enjoy each other’s company and conversation.
Not a lot of people will generally join book clubs if they want to read- some even may find them to be boring. Cardoza comments that she  “certainly understands the perspectives of different people who do think that…When it comes to high school, reading is seen more as a chore that they have to do. So they have to read a specific book at a specific time for a specific essay.” Due to schoolwork and how stressful school has become, high schoolers mainly feel burnt out from reading. Juggling time between sports, clubs, school, and whatever job or internship they may have, many students don’t have time to read books outside of school. Unlike elementary school, where there was dedicated time in class to do independent or group reading, and there was a choice in the books students may read. 

At the beginning of each month, the students pick a specific theme to read and all members are allowed to pick any book within that theme, “something like democratically elected books,” Cardoza commented. If that month’s theme doesn’t interest club goers, then they are more than welcome to leave and come back the next month. November’s theme is poetry, “We’re reading… ‘Arthurian Legends : Green Knight’. ”  Arthurian Legends are a series of early medieval folklore literature pieces centered around Great Britain and King Aruthr. It’s part of a larger Early Medieval Collection called The Three Classic Matters, which includes the Matter of Rome, the Matter of France, and Matter of Britain, which is where the Arthurian Legends are classified under.  “It made me read a larger variety of books that aren’t just fantasy,” explained Tzuyi Yeh, a senior who’s a regular attender.  For a typical meeting, students go to room 215, and simply start a discussion on different aspects of the book. These aspects could be anything from the story and characters to how the book was written, for example, how the author used stanzas.  

Many TJ Book Club members are grateful for a space where they are able to read what interests them, to actually enjoy reading as a hobby, and not dread it as a chore to complete an assignment, a space open on Wednesdays during lunch in Room 215, where everyone is welcome.