Parents, if you’re looking for directions on starting a book club for kids, get ideas for set-up, discussions, food, and activities here.
The purpose of starting a book club for kids is for kids to get social time with friends AND for kids to read lots of books.
But book clubs accomplish even bigger purposes for most readers.
The book club discussions promote deeper thinking about a book and may change the way children see the world and themselves.
Joining (or starting) a book club is a great way to get your kids reading.
Because there’s nothing better than hanging around with your friends, playing, eating, and . . . talking about a book!
Even if your kids are only in the club for the social, playing, and eating aspects of a book club, anything that makes reading and talking about a book fun works in their favor.
From an educational perspective, parent-child book clubs are rich with skill-building. Debbie Milner, a Literacy Coordinator for the Denver Public Schools, says “Besides building a love of reading, book clubs develop an abundance of literacy skills: the ability to use comprehension strategies; to compare and contrast authors, themes, concepts and ideas; the ability to understand how reading can help you learn about the world; and the ability to learn how to be a good writer from reading good writing.”
Not only skill-building, but parent-child book clubs also show children that their parent values reading. “The parent is modeling reading (yippee!) so the child recognizes that the parent values the printed word,” says author and parenting expert, Michele Borba, Ed.D.
How to Launch a Book Club for Kids (Parent Guide)
1. Decide who to invite.
Groups that do well are organized by interest, age, or gender.
Also, limit the group to 10 or less so each participant gets a chance to voice their thoughts if they so desire.
Decide if it will be a kids-only book club or a parent-child book club. Adding in the parents is a lovely way to share experiences and stories with your kids — I highly recommend it! For all ages.
My youngest daughter didn’t want to join a book club. At. All. But, I made her because I wanted to give her a social reading-related experience. Fortunately, she had a blast. And, our parent-child book club lasted from second grade until middle school.
2. Select the first book, date, time, and location.
If you’re organizing the book club, offer to host first. Then, if the group is willing, rotate houses.
I recommend you set a specific day of the month, the second Tuesday, or something like that. Whoever can make it, attends. With people’s busy schedules, it’s very difficult to accommodate everyone’s activities, changing, and voting every month for the best option.
Allow the child who hosts to be the person to pick out the book you’ll be reading that month. Trying to vote on a book takes forever and it’s difficult to come to a consensus. Alternating who picks works much better.
3. Read the book. Read it with your child if it’s a parent-child book club.
Kids can read the book to themselves. Or, they can listen to the book on audiobook. Finally, you can read aloud the book to your child. However you do it, get your kids to read the book before for the meeting.
As children get older and more experienced, you can have them mark the text so they can later share favorite quotes or passages.
4. Plan the book club meeting.
Whoever hosts plans the book club event, including who brings snacks. Involve your children in this process or let them plan it themselves.
You’ll want to plan out the discussion, the food, and the activities.
5. Host the book club meeting.
What will you do at your book club for kids? Start with a discussion, then move on to food and fun book-related activities.
DISCUSS THE BOOK:
The only rule for the book club discussion is to use good manners.
Remind the kids that it’s okay to disagree but they need to wait for their turn and not interrupt. If this becomes difficult, the host or the host’s parent can call on kids who are raising hands to speak.
For the discussion, it’s empowering if the host kid thinks up and asks the questions.
What kind of questions could kids ask at book club? Have them think of a few simple questions like what was your favorite part? or what was the funniest part?
Starting the book club meetings with easy questions makes it win-win. Then, as children get more experienced with discussing the text, their questions will reflect that.
Alternatively, children can each think of a question which they take turn asking the group.
Here are some examples of good discussion questions that kids can ask:
How would you rate the book on a scale of 1 to 10? Hold up your fingers.
What was your favorite part?
What didn’t you like about the book?
Would you change anything about the story?
Do you have any questions about the book?
What does the book make you wonder?
What character did you like best and why?
Would you recommend this book?
Did this book change the way you think?
In my youngest daughter’s book club’s first book club discussion, the girls wore a Cat in the Hat hat when sharing. It got very silly! And everyone had a great time —
“Thank you SO much again for tonight. L and I had such a great time.”
“We had fun at the book club.”
“I believe it to be a great success for many first-time book clubbers!”
DO BOOK-RELATED ACTIVITIES:
Draw: Have everyone draw their favorite scene or make favorite character trading cards.
Art Activity: Look on Pinterest for a craft that relates to the book.
Bookmarks with Quotes: Make bookmarks with favorite quotes from the book.
Grab Bag: fill a bag with objects from the story. Have everyone pull out an object and say when it was used in the book and what character used it.
Whose Line Is It? Write down quotes from the book. Ask kids to guess who said each one.
Watch the Movie: If your book is also a movie, watch it together. Then talk about which was better – the book or the movie.
Take a Field Trip: Instead of your book club meeting, visit a restaurant or location that relates to the book.
Skype with the Author: Many authors do Skype visits with fans.
Dress Up: Dress like your favorite character.
Act Out: Plan a skit to act out for each other.
PLAN FOR THEMATIC FOOD:
Plan for snacks and games that relate to the book in some way. (If possible.) When we did Percy Jackson, we served only blue foods, for example.
Get ideas from the theme, culture, and foods in the story.
Here are some other ideas:
6. Plan for the next time.
Again, it’s usually easiest to pick a day of the week each month — a day that doesn’t change. Provide a sign-up sheet so the kids can all take turns hosting the club at their house. To this end, be sure you get everyone’s email address so you can communicate about each book club meeting.
If you’re meeting virtually, you’ll want to designate who will facilitate the technology.
What Books Should Your Club Read?
Try to pick books that your group hasn’t yet read. Here are some book lists to get you started.
2. Goodreads Book Club Lists
3. 100 Great Children’s Books via New York Public Library
4. 100 Best Books: 9 – 11-year-olds via Book Trust
Have fun with your new book club!
Parent Guide to Starting a Book Club for Kids
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