Nyla Chuku, 10, finished her book, “The Liberation of Gabriel King,” in three days.
The book’s hero is afraid of everything, including the fifth grade. His best friend, the only black kid in school in a town with an active Ku Klux Klan, is afraid of nothing.
“It’s been making me want to read at home, at school and in my free time,” Nyla said.
Meldrum didn’t think the reading club would work when she was approached by Sullivan.
The teacher wasn’t sure her students could stay on task between monthly visits by the women.
“That’s a lot to expect for kids to wait a month to be excited,” she said. “That’s not normal.”
On their last visit, Sullivan and her cohorts — Kathy Walker, Sandra LeVan and Barbara Crandall — came prepared to talk about the books and brought enough cupcakes to go around.
Lively discussions and imaginative presentations by the students followed.
“It’s a simple idea that can be replicated anywhere,” said Sullivan, who sits on the board of the Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Meldrum credits Sullivan with creating a love of reading that can “never be repaid.”
“That’s all she wanted,” Meldrum said. “She doesn’t want to save them. She doesn’t want to teach them a lesson. She just wants them to love to read, and by all means she has accomplished that.”