Youth aged 9 – 12 in Ranch Ehrlo’s Family Treatment Program (FTP) have a new program at their disposal.  The Very Cool Book Club was started by Keetha Malmgren, a family treatment worker.

FTP is an in-home service that works to either prevent the placement of children out of their home or to assist families to unite after having a child in care.

“Reading is one of my greatest passions, I love talking about books, looking at books, receiving and giving book recommendations,” she said.

When she had children, Keetha began to think about ways to encourage a love of reading. One of those ideas was a children’s book club.

“I’ve got this wonderful opportunity working here in the Family Treatment Program to bring this dream to life. It started with a 1-on-1 book club with one of our FTP youth, where we would just talk about books or hang out at the library and browse the shelves,” she said.

Wanting to take the idea even further, Keetha sought out advice from her manager about creating an official book club with youth in the program.

Currently, the Very Cool Book Club has seven members. While practising physical distancing, they held their first meeting was held earlier this month, where they had their first book – Holes, by Louis Sachar – introduced to them.

 “There are some siblings in the book club, so I have encouraged them to read together or with their parents and make it a family thing. Some of the members live close to one another and have arranged to read the books together. I will also be reaching out to the members over the course of the month to get together 1-on-1 to read to them or read together,” Keetha said.

The Very Cool Book club incorporates several CARE principles. Keetha is hoping to use the platform to deepen the relationship she has with each member, as well as the relationships between the youth who attend. Family involvement is encouraged, and Keetha makes sure the youth know there is no pressure to read the book quickly, thereby meeting each youth at their own level.

 “The Family Treatment Program offers so much programming to our families and we really try to equip our families with all the tools they need to be successful when they leave us. It's so important to provide our young people with prosocial activities that they can utilize on their own. Some of our families come from smaller communities that don't have as many recreational options as there are in Regina. The great thing about reading is that we can do it anywhere in the world,” Keetha added.

“My co-workers at the Family Treatment Program have been so supportive and encouraging while I get this thing off the ground, and I am so appreciative of their enthusiasm and general interest in our meetings and the books that I have planned,” she concluded.

Ranch Ehrlo is guided by the CARE model which is based on six guiding principles (developmentally focussed, family involved, relationship based, trauma informed, competence centred, and ecologically oriented) to improve services for participants in care.