I don’t remember reading a lot of books when I was in grade school. My love of cozying up with a great novel and a cup of tea didn’t start until after I graduated college. As a mom, I want my children to enjoy the benefits and pleasures of reading.
One of the ways we have made reading a part of our lives is by participating in books clubs. In fact, my oldest daughter and I started one for her and her friends when she was in second grade.
What I love about a book club is that it brings people together and introduces them to books they might not have picked up on their own.
If you are interested in starting a book club with your kids here are some things that will help get you started.
Encourage your child to pick friends that are readers. When we first started, all of my daughter’s friends were excited just to get together. Over the years some of them dropped out because they didn’t enjoy reading as much as the others. Best friends don’t always make the best book club members and that’s okay.
Choose a location
You can host your book club at the participant’s house on a rotating basis or at your local library. For some added fun, take a field trip. You can meet at a zoo to discuss a book that centers around animals or a museum to see the art mentioned in a story. You might get lucky and be reading a book right around the time the author is visiting your local bookstore for a book signing.
Choose a good book
For the first year I hosted my daughter’s book club I choose a series. Since the girls were just second grade I thought following the adventures of the same characters month after month would hold their attention. As the kids got older, my daughter and I chose books together that were appropriate in length and topic. Now that my girl is in 5th grade, her and her friends take turns choosing what they will read.
Have a plan
You can expect plenty of giggles and silliness from the kids no matter what their age so you will need a plan to keep your meeting focused. We typically meet after school and I sometimes find it challenging to hold the kids attention after a long day at school. I found the more prepared I was the better. Here are some ways to do that:
- Have prewritten discussion questions on slips of paper and place them in a bucket. Each girl picks a question and reads it. Then we go around the room and everyone shares their answer.
- Find a cross word, word search, or activity sheets that corresponds with the book. If I can’t find one, use one of the many puzzle creators found online to create your own.
- Plan an activity for the meeting. For example, in one of the books we read, the main characters played the card game Spit during lunch. That month I brought a deck of cards and taught the girls how to play.
Have a snack
There is nothing that quiets a group of kids like a snack. My advice is to keep it simple BUT if you’d like to theme your meeting, feel free to let your book inspire your menu. Does the story take place in a movie theater? Serve popcorn. Are the main characters solving the mystery of a stolen ice cream recipe? Make homemade ice cream. (This one does double duty as a snack and activity.)
There are some other things I have learned over the last four years.
- The kids in the group may be at different reading levels. Be mindful of the length of the book and how dense the writing is on the page. When our group first started reading longer chapter books we made the mistake of choosing a few books that had too many pages and turned off some of our members.
- Read shorter books during busy months such as December and June.
- Small groups work better. There were times when I wanted to reschedule or cancel a meeting because only one or two girls could attend. I am glad I didn’t, those turned out to be some of our best discussions.
- Keep meeting times short. While my mommy book club could go on for hours, children can loose interest easily. My recommendation is about an hour unless you are on a field trip.
- Take cues from the girls as to how much you participate. Now that my daughter is going to sixth grade I have been able to let them facilitate their own discussion, however, I still guide them in the book selection.
Looking to start own book club? Check out the FaithGirlz! Samantha Sanderson series. Sam Sanderson, a seventh grader with a strong faith in God, wants to be a journalist just like her mom. With the help of her friend Makayla, she to solves mysteries and writes about them for her middle school newspaper.
In At the Movies, Sam discovers a bomb at a local theatre that is set to go off during the showing of controversial Christian film. When her dad, a police detective, is assigned to the case Sam hopes to get insider information to help her write her articles.
In On the Scene, Sam is asked to write a feature on anti-bullying for her school’s newspaper. While she is doing her research she hopes to get to the bottom of the bullying attacks against “mean girl” Nikki.
What’s great about each of these books is that they come with their very own discussion guide in the back of the book – perfect for your first meeting!
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Have you thought about starting a book club for kids this summer? What are some of your ideas that your kids would enjoy? Leave a comment on our blog! We’d love to hear from you!