Next Chapter Book Club for Adolescents and Adults with Disabilities

The Henrietta Hankin Branch Library is busy preparing for its first meeting of the Next Chapter Book Club, a community-based program for adolescents and adults with Down Syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy, and other types of intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 2002 by Dr. Thomas Fish, a professor at the Ohio State University, the Next Chapter Book Club was awarded the “Innovations in Reading Prize” in 2016 by the National Book Foundation and has clubs throughout North America and in other parts of the world. Clubs meet in public places and are comprised of four to eight members and two volunteer facilitators who are trained to engage readers of all levels—including those who cannot read or are “emerging readers.” Although reading skills of Next Chapter Book Club members often improve as a result of reading more frequently, the program is more about “reading to learn,” than “learning to read.” The primary focus is on having fun with friends in a public place on a regular basis.

Program leader Claire Michelle Viola is excited about launching this special club. “It’s a great opportunity for members to enjoy a book or a story and make lasting friendships along the way,” she notes. Additional staff and volunteers are training to facilitate the program and are eager to be part of this new group.

Beginning June 4, the club will meet every Tuesday from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m. at the Henrietta Hankin Branch Library. Anyone interested in joining or becoming a volunteer facilitator should contact Claire Michelle Viola; email at, or phone 610-344-4196.