Queen's University — Since 1873
20th September 2013

Creating a common ground

Back for its second year, Queen’s Reads eases the first-year transition

Jeannette Walls is the author of this year’s Queen’s Reads novel, The Glass Castle.
Jeannette Walls is the author of this year’s Queen’s Reads novel, The Glass Castle. (Charlotte Gagnier)

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Students will finally have the chance to hear from the author whose story they have read, analyzed and related to.

To help ease students into life at Queen’s, the Queen’s Reads program was created by the Student Experience Office.

Now in its second year, the program reached out to over 30 per cent of the first-year class through its summer opt-in registration.

This summer, incoming students read The Glass Castle, a memoir by author and journalist Jeannette Walls.

Walls, who has published four novels, will be speaking in Grant Hall this Saturday, an event run in partnership with Kingston WritersFest.

Created by a group of avid readers and writers, the festival has gained national recognition. It fosters a venue for like-minded people to come together and celebrate their interest in literature.

The advisory board for Queen’s Reads requires the chosen novel to relate to the first-year transition experience, with themes like independence, uncertainty, resilience and gaining success.

According to Arig Girgrah, assistant dean of student affairs. The Glass Castle exemplifies this.

Girgrah, who has overseen the project since it began, said the partnership encourages students to get involved in the local community.

Community-engaged learning, she said, is a critical goal for students, and academia in general.

Incoming students were sent information about the program last summer. Those who chose to opt-in were sent a free copy of the novel in July.

Over the summer, incoming students were encouraged to participate in online discussion while reading the book.

Jeannette Walls is the author of this year’s Queen’s Reads novel, The Glass Castle.
Jeannette Walls is the author of this year’s Queen’s Reads novel, The Glass Castle. (Charlotte Gagnier)
Jeannette Walls’ novel relates to the first-year transition experience.
Jeannette Walls’ novel relates to the first-year transition experience. (Supplied)

During Orientation Week, 400 students participated in small group discussions, run by around 100 upper-year students and faculty.

“We are interested in creating opportunities for students to interact with faculty, particularly outside of the classroom,” said Girgrah, “It’s a process of familiarization to the new intellectual and academic community.”

Kaylee Clark, ConEd ’14 and Queen’s Reads program assistant, said she feels she missed out.

“Had I had this program [during] my first year at Queen’s, it would [have made] the academic transition seem less scary,” Clark said. “It would have made me much more comfortable in my transition.”

Jeannette Walls will be speaking at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Grant Hall. Tickets are available through Kingston WritersFest and the Grand Theatre.

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