How to Start a Book Club
Decide the Age Range of the Book Club:
For most of our group activities in homeschooling I prefer a multi-age environment, but for a book club I felt differently. As I was creating the book club for my daughter, I chose a narrow age range, between 8 1/2 to 9 1/2. The reason for this was that I wanted to carefully chose literature that would speak to that age developmentally. This can be especially beneficial as the children involved grow together into their tweens and teens. Examples of strong, smart, and self reflecting characters, such as Anne from Anne of Green Gables, will be fantastic examples through the early teens. Examples of kind, compassionate, and empathetic characters, such as Sarah Crewe from A Little Princess, can inspire important qualities in 8 – 10 year olds. The discussions we have had in our book club have been very special and reflective, which might have been a bit difficult with a largely multi-aged group.
Select a Theme for the Book Club:
I am a huge literature lover and I feel strongly about children being exposed to high quality literature, so I chose the theme of our book club to be Classics and Award Winners. Last year, it was such an achievement for the children to have read, and thoroughly processed (through discussion, projects, and presentations), eight classic books. Other themes could include Adventure, Mysteries, Fantasy, or Science Fiction.
Think About How You Want to Structure the Book Club Meeting:
Some book clubs are very casual, with the kids gathering and discussing at their own leisure. Others simply gather for group crafts based on the book. Some are completely child led and others are parent led. The possibilities are endless. I was looking for a natural and enjoyable way to begin to introduce my children to the world and language of literature, especially since my daughter decided she wants to be an author. Using the parent training program, Teaching the Classics, I learned a delightful way to begin to orally introduce children to the elements of literature, while discussing the book we had recently completed. During our book club meetings, I would begin by introducing the children to the authors, showing them a picture of each author, and explaining a little about his or her life. Then I would lead the children through a discussion, while organically introducing them to terms and concepts (such as main characters, plot, conflict, climax, resolution, and theme). As we continue this year, and years to come, the discussions will incorporate and introduce more advanced elements of literature and language. In addition to our discussion, the children prepared projects, completed at home and based on the book, to present to the group. These presentations would be as simple or as complex as desired by the child. The intention was simply to give the child another chance to process the story on a deeper level, as well as to gain confidence presenting and speaking about literature. At the end of our gathering, we would enjoy a craft, based on the book, that everyone would take part in. And most importantly: Each book club I provided tea (in pretty tea cups) muffins, scones, and other yummy delights. Discussing literature, drinking tea, eating scones….really…what could be better?
Decide on a Routine:
It is beneficial to decide ahead of time how often the book club will meet, and to select dates. Our book club meets once a month, on the same afternoon and at same time each month. The children have all month to read the book, but are required to complete it by the meeting. I send out all the dates at the beginning of the year. Doing this can prevent your book club from disappearing into the ashes of everyone’s busy schedules.
Keep an eye out for follow up blogs posts to this one: Our Book Club Book Lists and The Benefits of Starting a Book Club.