One Book, One MCHS, lots of ideas |

One Book, One MCHS, lots of ideas

‘Book Thief’ promotes literary discussions

Moffat County High School librarian James Neton quotes a passage from Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief" during the One Book, One MCHS event Tuesday in the school library. Functioning as a book club for students and teachers, the program allowed them to discuss their thoughts on the novel.
Andy Bockelman

A story, a tale, a yarn has the power to bring people of all different ages, backgrounds and interests together to discuss their thoughts and potentially learn a little more about the world or even themselves.

The organizers of Moffat County High School’s One Book, One MCHS accomplished this during an event Tuesday in which students and teachers gathered to discuss the title they all had spent the past several weeks reading: Markus Zusak’s “The Book Thief.”

Published in 2005, the historical fiction novel is about a girl named Liesel whose experiences in pre-World War II Germany are shaped by her adoptive parents, a gradual realization of what’s happening in her country during the time period and a burgeoning, rebellious love affair with reading, though she begins the story illiterate.

James Neton, MCHS librarian, said the selection for the program’s third year was a big difference from the sci-fi adventure exploits of “The Hunger Games” and the classic fantasy of “The Hobbit.” Although he was unsure of the choice at first, he couldn’t argue with the results.

“It was a little more challenging in a way,” he said “It was a good choice to push the kids in how they looked at some literature.”

Library tech Robin Weible said she was glad to see that perhaps because of the turnout being smaller than in previous years, there was a deeper delving into the details of “The Book Thief.”

“It’s not as exciting to some people, but the people who were here, the adults and the kids, really got into it, and that was neat,” she said.

During lunch in the MCHS library, with food provided by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, about 35 students and 15 teachers discussed the impact the book had on each of them, with a long list of discussion questions.

The topics they were able to go over in the brief time included Zusak’s descriptive writing style, the relationships between characters and the book’s unique narrator — Death.

Students had a lot to say about the latter and what that signified. Junior Cassidy Griffin mentioned the use of Death foreshadowed the many lives that were lost during that era, both inside and outside the pages.

Griffin said she was “flabbergasted” by many elements of the work, such as its use of English and German language, as well as the overall magnitude of the actual events that transpired more than 70 years ago. Although a young Jewish man named Max is a key character, the story is more about the willingness of many people to turn a blind eye to the activities of the Nazi Party, such as concentration camps.

“It changed my perspective of how I think about the Holocaust and how things actually worked in Germany,” she said.

In addition to drawings for posters, movie passes from the West Theatre and more prizes, a new part of One Book, One MCHS was a screening of the film adaptation, which took place later that afternoon.

Being able to expand on the book club-type program worked out well this year, Neton said.

“Part of our responsibility as a library is to promote, one, reading, and two, to promote kids sharing those ideas,” he said. “Then the other part is getting the people that teach them to share ideas as a group, and hopefully that rubs off as they get older, and we’re all able to talk and share and discuss with each other.”

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.