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“A NOVEL IDEA” – ‘Saints Read’ event connects students, faculty, parents

St. Louis Catholic High School has launched its inaugural “Saints Read” event, a campus-wide common reading program to connect students, faculty and parents around a single novel. The book chosen is “Breaking Free” by Caleb Monroe, a published author and chemistry teacher at the school.

“Breaking free” is the third book in Monroe’s “Wind’s Cry” series. It’s a fantasy story about a boy who witnessed his parent’s murder and then develops severe agoraphobia. After living as a recluse for 10 years, he befriends a mystical creature who helps him overcome his fears.

Monroe said the book’s over-arching theme is to not “let your past define you.”

Melanie LeJeune, the school’s librarian and technology coach, said “Saints Read” is designed to “reinvigorate that joy for reading.”

Studies show that the number of books students read declines from third grade to high school, possibly due to increasing homework and required reading assignments, she said.

With a bite-sized reading schedule spanning six weeks and a final celebration with the author, Monroe said “Saints Read” is an obstaclefree way to get families and students communicating.

“You can’t ‘fail’ this assignment,” Monroe said. “Even if you only read part of the book, maybe hearing about it at the celebration will inspire them to read on.”

Juliet Riviere, a ninth-grader and library advisory board member, said she’s looking forward to participating in the event because it’s different than the traditional ways students interact.

“It’s a way to make school less digital,” she said.

LeJeune said the “face-to-face connections” between students, faculty and families were purposefully built into the program, a vision that Monroe said is in-line with the school’s mission.

“If we say we’re here to love your children and make them better human beings, then giving them opportunities for personal time with their parents goes a long way,” LeJeune said.

“Breaking Free” is written for young adults but will appeal to older audiences as well, making it ideal for family discussion.

“Like the ‘Harry Potter’ series, no matter what age you read it you’ll find different and increasingly deeper meanings to the text,” he said.

Monroe said his writing comes from a life-long love of story telling that began with his father’s love of comic books.

“I never wanted to be a writer, but I’ve always had ideas,” he said. “But one day, I had a story and I just wanted to tell it so I sat down and did it.”

While he believes sharing his works with his students will encourage them to write, he ultimately hopes it will push them to pursue whatever grabs their interest.

“Any passion, whether it be sports, band or any number of things, it would be great to see them go forward with that no matter the outcome.”


For more information on “Saints Read,” visit www.slchs.org/saints-read/.

Click here for the original story from the American Press.