Elmer Anderson, one of a long line of great basketball players at Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn, is the longtime assistant basketball coach under head coach Ruth Lovelace. Anderson also does duty as the school’s parent coordinator.
Last year, Anderson introduced an idea for a Boys & Girls Parents Book Club to Dr. Bernard Gassaway, the school’s principal, who liked the idea and gave the go-ahead to the idea.
Anderson then met with a select group that included Dr. Delia Loney, the 21st Century coordinator, Aaron Nothnagle, the school’s data specialist, and Elaine Porcher, director of the school’s Leadership Program, to discuss the proposed book club. The purpose was to “have an impact on students who may have found reading books boring,” said Anderson.
Porcher joined Anderson in communicating information to the parents about the book club. The club then began meeting every two months and discovered that a number of students, knowing their parents were involved, also had begun reading books at home.
One particular student began coming to the coach’s office to request books. He was interested by the giant, beautiful posters that announced the meetings and the books being read and discussed.
A consistent group of 20 parents participated in the readings, passing the program on to their Boys & Girls children. The Boys & Girls Parents Book Club meets every two months and was recently treated by to a visit by author Dr. Linda Michelle Baron, who presented certificates of acknowledgement to the parents, who are now reading four books a year.
A number of the club’s members have children who participate on the school’s athletic teams. The parents, now in their second year, are reading the work of Walter Mosley, one of the best-known writers in the world.
Word is spreading, as a number of Parents Book Clubs are being organized in other schools, especially in Brooklyn, thanks to Anderson. Gassaway also recently joined the parents at a book club meeting.
The Boys & Girls Parents Book Club’s next meeting and reading will be Dec. 10 in the school’s library-a sure slam dunk that’s a message to all student-athletes: Put a book in your bag along with those sneakers.