April 26, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

School Librarians Stir Enthusiasm Around ‘Divergent’ Film Release


Students at a ‘Divergent’ film release party at The Ethel Walker School (in CT) compete in a trivia contest. / Sarah Ludwig

The movie adaptation of Divergent (Harper Collins, 2012), the first book in Veronica Roth’s bestselling book series of the same name, will be released March 21. With over five million copies sold, school and public libraries are taking advantage of its popularity to host Divergent-theme events in the upcoming weeks.

Angela Wojtecki, district library media specialist for Nordonia Hills City Schools in Ohio, is planning a field trip with her monthly book club, the Knight Readers, to the local theater for the film’s opening day, March 21, right after school. All of her book club members have read the entire trilogy.

According to Brittany, a sophomore, “By seeing the trailers, I can already see how intense and perfect the movie will be. I plan to see the midnight showing as well as [the one] with our book club!”

Another book club run by Kendel Lively, a teacher librarian at Virginia’s Lord Botetourt High School, will also be celebrating the film’s release. Typically, her students bring their lunch to the library, once a month, for special events. On March 20—the day before the release—the book club will hold a party featuring a faction quiz, a trivia contest with prizes, and a viewing of the official trailer—with freshly-popped popcorn, of course. She, too, is taking the book club to see the film in the theaters.

“The kids are very excited,” Lively says.

Beth Mulch, the librarian at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia, says that while Divergent has been popular, it’s nowhere near to the popularity of The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008). But, she is planning some Divergent-related programming in her library, too.

“Each day I will ask a different [Divergent] question and correct answers will be entered into a raffle for prizes,” she says.

The prizes include READ posters, copies of the book, and the movie’s soundtrack. Like both Wojtecky and Lively, Mulch’s book group will be attending the movie as a field trip as well.

“This year the club has been fundraising so that we can purchase books that each student in the club can keep,” says Mulch. “[We’ve] raised enough money so we are able to go see the movie as a group, and [then afterwards], we get together to discuss the book.”

The youth services librarian, Sarah Deisler, at the Kent Free Public Library in Ohio says, “We have a really tough time keeping any of the Divergent series on the shelf. Both teens and adults seem to be hooked and really like the world that Roth has created.”


Students at the ‘Divergent’ theme party at the Ethel Walker School in CT. / Sarah Ludwig

Deisler is planning a party for teens in grades 6–12. The party will include a “What Faction Are You?” quiz, a Divergent jeopardy game, snacks, and door prizes. In addition, she has planned crafts-making such as book charms for necklaces and decorating cookies with faction symbols, based on the results of the factions quiz.

“Programs like this create an environment where teens can come together, get excited, and geek out about the characters in the book and the people playing them in the movie,” says Deisler.

The teen services reference librarian, Andrea Ingala, at the Windsor Public Library in Connecticut says Divergent is a 2014 Nutmeg Book Award nominee—Connecticut’s annual children and teens book award.

Ingala’s main Divergent event, a party at the Windsor branch, will include several activity stations and movie ticket giveaways for all attendees.

“I love when I have kids who attend a library program that are readers! Then I get to hear their opinions, what they thought was great, lame, too long, or too short. When I can connect with readers, it’s a great time.”

In fact, it’s not just librarians who are recognizing this opportunity to connect with readers. A movie promotions company, 42 West, is joining forces with REFORMA—the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking—to help promote the film. 42 West is offering to send posters, booklets, and other promotional items to participating libraries.

(If your library is interested in participating, email Ana-Elba Pavon, co-chair of REFORMA’s Children’s and YA Services Committee, at apavon0405@gmail.com.)

When the excitement for Divergent slows down, the next big thing—the New York Times bestseller The Fault in Our Stars about two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group—will follow. While most librarians have not yet begun to plan specific events for The Fault in Our Stars, which hits theaters June 6, Mulch is focusing more of her attention and resources on this release than on Divergent’s.

“We have 17 copies of the The Fault in Our Stars (Dutton, 2012), and every copy is always checked out,” says Mulch. “We also have two copies in Spanish, which regularly get checked out as well.”

Mulch’s plans for the film’s release include fundraising for the This Star Won’t Go Out Foundation (TSWGO), which provides funds to help pay for travel or living expenses for the families of children living with cancer. To learn more about TSWGO, visit tswgo.org or find them on Twitter at @tswgo.


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