Author phones in to ‘Nation’ discussion

By Rebecca Nussbaum

Author Terry Pratchett phoned in to the Middle School’s special assembly on Monday so students and staff members who read his novel could discuss the book “Nation” with him, Head of Middle School Ronnie Codrington-Cazeau said.

English teacher Amanda Angle spearheaded the All Community Read program, where students, faculty and parents were encouraged to read “Nation” this summer in order to unite the community and give everyone a “common language,” Cazeau said. 

“The object was to get people talking about books and about reading and whether they liked the book or not, and people are talking about it,” librarian Maxine Lucas said, who, along with Middle School Communications Department Head Jen Bladen helped Angle.

“It doesn’t seem to be as widespread as I would have liked, but in the first year of anything, sometimes you have to adjust your expectations a little bit,” Lucas said.

Choosing a book that was captivating and relatable to students from 11 to 16 years old was challenging, Cazeau said. Angle, Lucas and Bladen read many young fiction novels before settling on “Nation.”

Cazeau has received mixed feedback on their choice.

“People either loved it or hated it,” she said. 

Angle made many phone calls to Pratchett’s publishing company to ensure that students would have the opportunity to ask the British author their questions despite the fact that he lives in England.

After reading and approving the book over spring break, Cazeau informed students and parents of the reading project in May, giving everyone who wanted to participate sufficient time to read.

 ”We wanted it to be something that the entire community could refer to,” Cazeau said.

 Although student participation was lower than expected, middle school faculty plan to continue the All Community Read and “tweak” the activities for next year’s program, Lucas said.

The next book has not yet been chosen.