The book swap provides students and staff the opportunity to step into new books

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Eva Harshman

A variety of classics, which may be included in the book swap.

Most readers treasure their favorite books and plan to never part with such works. However, AP Literature and AP Language teacher Lisa Penninga thinks that allowing someone else to have the opportunity to explore a beloved novel for themselves is necessary. With this idea in mind, Penninga facilitated a book swap among staff and students alike.

In order to reach as many students and staff as possible with this opportunity, Penninga has opened the book swap to any student or staff member in the school regardless of grade, subject, or English class. 

“Everyone is welcome—staff or students—to bring a book that maybe has been sitting on a bookshelf at home, and then, you can swap it,” Penninga said. “We’ll just have books on the table, so you can drop yours off, pick one out, and hopefully head to spring break with a new read.”

Due to its simple procedure and accessibility, the book swap is available to anyone and everyone. With spring break coming up, it is especially important that students keep their mental acuity over the vacation with a healthy dose of reading. 

Although spring break is an escape from the academic world, it is also a great time to step away from technology and enjoy the gifts of nature. Reading a new book in such an environment can make the experience exponentially more refreshing and rewarding. 

“I think it’s great because it gets you out of your head,” Penninga said. “Reading is great for your mental health, and it helps you sleep before you go to bed. I also think that when you’re on the beach, which a lot of [students] will be, you can’t really sit on your phone because of the glare, so you can always read a good book.”

Despite the fact that Penninga was inspired by Pine Ridge Elementary School for the book swap, the age range is easily adapted for students at the high school level as books are exchanged among teenagers and adults.

Senior Remmie Gavle is participating in the exchange and is enthusiastic about diving into a new story while being able to pass her tales on to another person. With the help of Penninga’s introduction of the book swap to the school, Remmie is able to do this with ease.

“I love Mrs. Penninga, and I’m going to support anything she does,” Remmie said. “I’m really excited to share a book that I love with other people, and I want to experience a book that someone else really loves. I think it’s a really good idea.”

Not only does the book swap provide participants with a new story, but it may also introduce them to a new genre or type of book.

Some have a difficult time breaking out of a genre they love when purchasing or checking out a book, so the book swap makes it much easier for different types of books to be spread around.

“I’m open to anything,” Remmie said. “I’m excited to just get into a new book, and I think it’s perfect right before spring break to have something to read on the plane wherever anyone’s going.”

Sticking with the same type of books can follow students from early childhood all the way well into adulthood. Thankfully, the book swap helps others explore books from many different homes containing many different themes.

History teacher Trevor Riley is no stranger to the danger of falling so deeply in love with a certain genre that it is difficult to climb out of the hole and find new adventures. However, he began his journey of expanding his reading strata with friends and family.

“A few years ago, I started to realize that my wife and I read very different types of books and that I consistently read books with similar themes,” Riley said. “I think that it is natural for us as people to like what we like and stay in our comfort zone. So, I decided that I would start to ask people if they are reading anything good or if I came across a strong recommendation for a book, I would take it and read it even if I didn’t think it would be the kind of book I would like.”

In order to take this a step further, Riley has joined the book swap to have even more of a variety of books to choose from. 

Since Riley understands what it feels like to enjoy a story so much that you only want to find other books like it, he hopes to find a book that someone loves just as much as he loves his favorite books.

I hope to get a book that someone else loved reading and that impacted them in a profound way.”

— Trevor Riley

“I think the book swap works the same way [as other exchanges] because people are bringing books that they think are great,” Riley said. “You get a chance to read something that maybe you wouldn’t have picked, but someone else thinks is great; or, you could find something that is in line with what you like to read that you haven’t read yet. I hope to get a book that someone else loved reading and that impacted them in a profound way.”