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Buckeye Book Community looks ahead to its next first-year book

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Jeannette Walls, author of 'The Glass Castle,' speaks to an audience on Sept. 23 at Mershon Auditorium. Her book was the official selection of the First Year Experience Buckeye Book Community for the 2014-15 school year. Credit: Courtesy of Jenna DiCicco

Jeannette Walls, author of ‘The Glass Castle,’ speaks to an audience on Sept. 23 at Mershon Auditorium. Her book was the official selection of the First Year Experience Buckeye Book Community for the 2014-15 school year. Credit: Courtesy of Jenna DiCicco

Each year, Ohio State asks first-year students to engage in the campus community by reading and discussing a required reading book.

The Buckeye Book Community committee has been meeting since November and taking suggestions from various faculty within OSU all year to pick next year’s book, said Jenna DiCicco, program coordinator for Buckeye Book Community.

Although the book for next school year’s Buckeye Book Community was selected in mid-February, students won’t find out what it is until March or April.

“The reason we’re not announcing it yet is we have to make sure we can bring the author to campus, order the books and get it approved by leadership in the office,” DiCicco said.

Readability and the different issues and themes addressed are two of the key components to choosing the novel for Buckeye Book Community.  The Buckeye Book Community committee is looking for issues relating to some of the struggles facing first-year students when choosing a novel, DiCicco added.

“We like to see a variety of different themes that are relevant to first-year students and that can maybe tie into their transition to college,” DiCicco said.

“If there’s something that can parallel the student’s transition to college, like college is hard, you’re going to have some difficult classes, you’re going to have some struggles maybe being away from home or learning to manage your new independence. If there’s issues in the book that relate to that, that’s something we look for.”

The Buckeye Book Community committee is made up of about 20 people with a combination of faculty, staff and students. The faculty range from professors and lecturers in different colleges to academic advisers. There are usually two staff members from First Year Experience and also three to four first-year students, DiCicco said.

First-year students have gotten involved in different ways over the past years. Kaitlyn Santinoceto, a first-year in animal sciences, said she got involved through attending the First Year Experience sessions corresponding to the book she read.

Last year’s novel was “The Glass Castle,” by Jeanette Walls. “The Glass Castle” is a memoir detailing Walls’ childhood with her brother and sisters and the dysfunction of her family.

“I was so engaged in the conversation we were having in the session that when I went up to sign in at the end of the session, the girl that was running it asked me if I would be interested joining the BBC,” Santinoceto said in an email. “I was so excited because it was one of the first things I got involved with on campus. I love it.”

Buckeye Book Community unites first-year students and helps them feel like they have more in common with their incoming class, Satinoceto said.

“The book and workshops can really bring students together in those first few months,” Satinoceto said. “It’s important to establish a sense of belonging in a new place and the Buckeye Book Community helped me achieve that.”

DiCicco said she also believes that the different conversations the books spawn and the different perspectives the books have are important to first-year students.

“If it gives them a new way to think about race and ethnicity or being from a different part of the country, or being in a different socioeconomic status than they grew up in … It gives them a new way to think about that or new perspectives.”

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