The Cheyenne River Youth Project Launches Wowapi Book Club for Teens

literacy2_side_picEAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA — The Cheyenne River Youth Project Wednesday announced the launch of the Wowapi Book Club for its teen members, which will be held every Wednesday and Thursday evening from April through July 2014. The meetings will be held from 6-7 p.m. in the 10,000 square foot library in the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center.

“Books allow kids to step outside their world and become pirates, astronauts, writers and thinkers,” says Julie Garreau, CRYP executive director. “Books also enable them to travel and dream about the possibilities of what they may become or where they may want to go in life. CRYP is about presenting options and opportunities and our book club is the perfect place for our kids to explore the world through these books.”

Valerie Collins, the group’s coordinator, was an avid reader growing up in the Cheyenne River community and says the name Wowapi means “book,” in the Lakota language. She hopes to inspire and engage the club members not only to read, but to embrace the discussion and camaraderie that comes with sharing their thoughts on books.

cokatawiconi_side_pic“Our motto is ‘What happens in book club, stays in book club,’” says Collins. “Not only are we reading some intense titles, but at the meeting I am hoping that the group can bond on a different level. I want this to be a special place that the kids can call their second home, a place where they trust everyone and feel comfortable with each other.”

Collins says that at the end of each month, Wowapi members will read a different book, followed by a pizza and movie party based off the material they read that month. The selections for the next five months are as follows:

April: “The Business of Fancydancing,” by Spokane author Sherman Alexie. This is his first official novel compiled of over 40 short stories and poems about the honest truth of what living as an Indian in today’s world means: The happiness, the heartache, the fun, the sadness, the family, the land and everything in between. At the end of the month we will watch “Dance Me Outside.”

May: “The Fault in Our Stars,” by John Greene. This title follows the main character of Hazel Grace, who is dying of cancer. While she has accepted her fate, she does whatever her parents ask of her because she knows that “the only thing worse that a 16-year-old who dies from cancer is the parents who loses their 16 year old to cancer.”  We watch her journey from a settled acceptance of despair to a renewed sense of hope and love in family and friends.  The movie for this book will be very special. We will be taking a trip to Pierre, S.D., to see the film adaptation of this novel, which will be released on June 6th this summer.

June: “Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines” by Nic Sheff. This title is probably our most mature-themed novel, even though it is classified as a young adult novel. It chronicles the life of Nic Sheff from a “good boy,” a promising young writer, family-oriented guy… to a boy living off the streets, prostituting himself, robbing, all just to get a five minute high on meth. He eventually turns it all around, after many attempts at rehab. Two years into sobriety he writes this novel. He isn’t preachy, he isn’t self serving. He just tells his tale. Our current epidemic of meth use on our reservation was the compelling factor in choosing this title. We wanted to show there is hope, there can be change, and it starts within you. The movie pick for this title is a documentary narrated by Val Kilmer entitled “American Meth.” It follows a close-knit family who is ripped apart by this drug, and how they endure while their loved ones find the path to wellness again.

July’s selection will be a surprise for members, says Collins, with a contest to guess the book among members.

Additionally, an email account will be necessary for all members to facilitate communication in the event a meeting is cancelled. Staff will help those who do not have an email account to obtain one at the teen center.

Finally, Book Club members who come to 90 percent of the meetings, finish their worksheets and finish their books by August 1st will receive either a Tablet or Kindle Fire. There are 10 slots to fill, so hurry and sign up! One more note: Because some of the titles are mature content, parental permission must be granted. On our first meeting, set for Thursday April 10th, permission slips will be passed out and as soon as they are brought back in, the teens will receive their first book.

For more info, parents, guardians and teens can contact Valerie Collins at 605-964-8200 to answer any questions they may have or they are welcome to stop in and visit with a staff member about the club, or follow us at and for updates and details.



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  1. Bill Brown 6 years ago
  2. Bill Brown 6 years ago
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