So many of my friends belong to a book club and for years I belonged to one myself. I have been thinking about starting a book club for kids for the longest time, all in the spirit of Reading is Fun. I kept putting it off because kids have so many activities already, and this sounded like it could be a whole lot of work. My kids kept asking and asking and eventually I thought we could start one as a trial. Turns out we love it.
The idea is that we gather a couple of kids together, and talk about the books they have been reading. Keeping it really simple… everyone brings a book they have read in the last while: picture book, poetry books, fact books, comic books, novels, library books, borrowed books, any books. The thing is, I love reading children’s books and could talk about them forever… forever. I can never find enough people to talk about my latest and greatest reads and finally I have a captive audience. It turns out that a book club for children is exactly what I need in my life.
Gasp, what if they haven’t read anything? Not a problem. I do try and inspire them to read something and show them a variety of books that I think they will like. And we do talk, talk, talk about books… characters in books, places in books, snippets from books that they have enjoyed reading. My idea is to show kids that books come in a variety of shapes, colours, sizes… variety… and if they keep hunting they will indeed find a book that they might want to read.
Se7en Ideas for a Fun Book Club
- Keep it Small: Our book club is for my three youngest kids, so middle schoolers. They each asked a friend and their sibling. So there are always just a couple of kids around the table. The idea is to make sure that there is time for each of them to have a chance to speak and tell us about the books that they love.
- Let Your Kids Choose Their Own Books: There are absolutely no limits on the books that they bring with them, absolutely anything goes. We go around the table and ask everyone to tell us a little bit about the book they have brought with them and why they enjoyed reading it… we don’t want anyone to give anything away, but we do want to know why we would want to read their book. That’s enough, your book club can genuinely end right there…
- We Pick a Really Simple Theme: We have picked a simple theme for our book clubs… one time we read the beautiful picture book series: Journey, Quest and Return by Aaron Becker and chose the theme: Rainbow to go with them. We added some rainbow cupcakes into the mix and we were good to go.
- We Listen to a Chapter of an Audio Book: I decided that it would be nice to create a shared story, that everyone could enjoy and that they would remember as their book club book. It had to be a book that they hadn’t read before and it had to have distinct chapters… so we chose the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Palace. We listen to a chapter from the audio book each month and if someone misses book club, it is no problem, it is only one chapter and we catch it up for them the next time.
- We Do a Simple Book Related Activity: While they are listening to the audiobook chapter we do a simple, really simple, book related activity… one time we decorated a notebook with bookish stickers and we write down books that we might want to read or we have read for book club in them. Another time, our theme was super heroes and we created super hero book marks.
- I Always Add a Little Poetry or a Picture Book: In my quest to instil a love of the written word with kids I always try and find some fun poetry for them… a good place to find fun poetry for kids, believe it or not, is on youtube. For instance: Chocolate Cake, by Michael Rosen is fantastic. Otherwise, a picture book… because I firmly believe we are never too old for picture books.
- Be Quiet and Let Them Speak: Some kids have a fairly good idea of what they are going to tell us about their books… and others don’t. It is easy to ask a couple of leading questions and let them fill in the answers, but I have found it is better to just give them a little longer to gather their thoughts and once they get going they are happy to tell you why they loved a book.
- Make Time for Playtime: This is what makes book club for my kids… time to just play and hang out with their buddies. So much of their time is organised and scheduled that free time to play is really what they all like best.
- When All Else Fails: When the going gets tough, watch the movie… this is a great opportunity to talk about movies and how they are the “artist’s impressions of the book”… so many movies don’t even come close to the brilliance of the books. I could go so far as there is never a movie as good as the book… though I have to say that there are a few that come close. For example this version of Swallows and Amazons is brilliant. We have really enjoyed it more than a few times and it was a great movie to watch with a group of kids that haven’t read the books yet, and this version of the movie certainly won’t spoil the book for the potential readers at all.
There you go, just a few ideas to help you get a book club started with your kids and a couple of friends… low key, easy and fun. Gotta love books and reading and I believe the best way to get kids truly enthusiastic about reading is to be enthusiastic about books with them. Happy reading, happy weekending!!!