Hope Wins Community Book Club

By Luis Diaz | June 8 2023 | General

By Courtney Walker, Campus Librarian at Skaggs Elementary School in Plano ISD

When times are tough, we must continue to find and spread HOPE. I am the campus librarian at Skaggs Elementary School in Plano ISD, and this year I hosted my campus’ first after school book club. When selecting a book, I knew that Hope Wins, edited by Dr. Rose Brock, was the perfect fit. I was lucky enough to write the Educator and Librarian Guide for the book and fell in love with everything about it. I think everyone needs a little more hope right now, and hope is exactly what was brought to my school community with this program and this book. The community read was such a success, so I wanted to share my experience and ideas to enable you to bring your community together with this beautiful book as well! As I wrote in the guide, “I hope that reading this collection of stories and using this guide to connect with it brings both you and your students this same hope I found in it. That the stories and your conversations with your students and community illuminate to you all that hope can be found around us. How important it is that we find it in ourselves and share it with others. Because I believe that hope is the light that brightens the world around us and pushes away the darkness. In this book and with this guide, I hope you all find that light.” (Walker)

The book club was optional for all members of our school community- staff, students and their extended families. The meetings took place at night at the school library. We met once a week for a month to discuss the book and come together as a community. Reading was done at home outside of the meetings, and extension opportunities were offered for those who wished to do even more with the book beyond just the meetings. To ensure the program was inclusive of all families, I made sure that families could bring their younger or older children as well to eliminate any barriers for participation. I provided fidgets, coloring book pages, and special flexible seating to accommodate all the participants no matter age. Finally, due to a generous donor, we also offered free copies of the book to anyone who wanted to participate but were unable to purchase the book themselves.

To participate, families just needed to have at least one copy of the book. They received the printed and digital copy of the official Educator and Librarian Guide, which we used to guide our small group and whole group discussions each meeting. They were also encouraged to use to guide to extend the discussion and activities at home as much as they desired. Included in the guide are reproducibles where readers can reflect on the essays and have even more discussions at home.

We were extremely fortunate to get a special in person visit from the spectacular editor of the book, Dr. Rose Brock, for our third meeting. She started by talking to all the participants discussing the book, the editing and publishing process, and what hope means to her. Then with every family that attended, she took pictures, signed books and gave incredible personal attention and care to each and every student and their family. Many families shared that it was the highlight of the program for them. It was really powerful to be able to bring her in person to connect with the families. Beyond just being incredible exciting and interesting, having Dr. Brock in person and discussing these topics demystified writing and publishing and made those careers seem real and obtainable for my students.

For the final meeting, we were also extremely fortunate and honored to have a virtual author visit from Dr. Rose Brock and four of the contributing authors: Gordon Korman, James Ponti, Julie Buxbaum and Stuart Gibbs. They generously called in and discussed the book with my community. They shared more about their stories and their writing process and students were able to ask questions directly to the authors. It was a night none of us will ever forget. Every author was incredibly personable, fun and inspiring.

Finally, to extend the experience, I made sure that the book club ended right before the North Texas Teen Book Festival, which all proceeds from the book support. I took many of the kids on a field trip to the festival and encouraged the participating families to attend as well. They were able to bring their Hope Wins books to get signed by more of the authors and even hear the Hope Wins panel. It was incredible to be able to connect the book, the book club, the festival, the authors and the community together.

While the options of having the trip to the North Texas Teen Book Festival or the author visits may not be possible for all schools, there are still many resources to create similar experiences for your community. Many of the authors have interviews online that can be watched or shared, their sites contain fun activities and connections that can be used alongside reading Hope Wins, and NTTBF even has a Youtube Channel with many great panels with some of the contributing authors.


I was honored to have the program spotlighted by the Plano ISD Communications Department with a video about the book club and Dr. Rose Brock’s visit to Skaggs Elementary. All the video filming and editing was done by Plano ISD’s Video Production Specialist, Brian Hunt.


Courtney Walker is a Campus Librarian at Skaggs Elementary School in Plano ISD, Plano ISD 2022 District Elementary Teacher of the Year, member of TLA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, member of the Advisory Council for the Graduate Library Science Program at Sam Houston State University, writer for the official Educator and Librarian Guide for Hope Wins, and creator of the new collection type: Adapted Book Library Collections. Learn more at courtneywalker.org.

Hope Wins
A Collection of Inspiring Stories for Young Readers
In a collection of personal stories and essays, award-winning and bestselling artists from Matt de la Peña and Veera Hiranandani to Max Brallier and R.L. Stine write about how hope always wins, even in the darkest of times.
Age 8-12 years
Grades 3-7