So, you want to start a book club for your kids?
What a great idea! As keen bookclubbers ourselves, we know how much talking about books helps us understand them better and understand better what they mean to us. It also opens us up to other points of view that we may not have considered. But above all it is FUN! For us, reading is a social experience and there’s simply nothing better than a bit of book chat.
Informal book clubs organised by a group of friends have become increasingly popular amongst the UK’s adult population in recent years. But what about our children? Why should the grown-ups have all the fun? If you’ve got a young bookworm in your family, why not help them set up their own book club? Here are a few tips that might help you, and them, along the way:
Books are a great way of bringing people together. Who is going to join your book club? Does your child already have book-loving friends? Are there kids in their class who you think would particularly enjoy talking about books in an informal environment? Maybe someone who has just moved to the area and might find book club a good way to make new friends? Alternatively, you could start a family book club – why not invite siblings, cousins or grandparents to join in?
Choose a convenient location
You could choose to host your book club at home, or to take it in turns with other parents. If that’s not convenient, why not ask your child’s school or your local library if they are able to provide a space? Of course, you don’t have to meet indoors! Why not take a picnic blanket down to the local park and invite your fellow bookclubbers to meet you there?
Let your child suggest a book to read
Kids are generally very motivated to read when it’s a book they’ve chosen themselves. Encourage them to choose something accessible that all book club members will be able to read in the chosen timeframe. For subsequent meetings, book club members could take it in turns to choose the next book, or you could suggest three or four for them to vote on. Book club is a great opportunity to discover new books, authors and genres – encourage them to mix it up and go for something a bit different each time.
Suggest a few discussion topics
They may need a little bit of help getting started, especially the first few times the book club meets. Have a few book club-style questions up your sleeve, things that might help get the conversation started. These shouldn’t be comprehension-based questions – it’s important that book club doesn’t feel like school! Instead focus questions on how the book made them feel, or how the characters were feeling at a particular point in the story. Can they relate to what happens in the book? How does the book relate to their own lives? What did they like or not like about it?
Provide snacks … and then leave them to it!
If your book club is happening after school, your book club members are probably going to be a bit peckish, so make sure you’ve got a packet of biscuits or some fruit available for them to munch on while they’re chatting. But don’t hover over them. They are likely to feel less self-conscious without an adult in the room. Leave them to their discussion and look forward to hearing all about it later!
Organise an activity
Younger children in particular might benefit from a bit more structure and activity in their book club meetings. At any age, an activity that is inspired by the book you are reading can be a great way of helping children engage a bit more deeply with the story. Why not set up a craft, drawing or cooking activity that relates to an event, theme or character in the book? Maybe you could go even one step further and take your book club on an outing to somewhere related to the story. If you’re a Parrot Street subscriber, you’ll find that lots of the activities in our packs will work really well in a book club setting.
Find out more about our monthly book subscriptions for 5 to 11 year olds here.