How to Lead a Book Club for Kids that they LOVE & Look Forward To!
You KNOW that kids learn to read best simply by reading more and being read TO a lot when they are young, but in today's digital life, it's hard to motivate many kids to read, right? By the end of this article, you will have a good grasp on just how to lead a book club for kids in the right way to make it beneficial for your kids and a great success.
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Why have a book club for kids anyway?
To foster a LOVE of reading! You know all those fancy buzzwords teachers use to describe learning to read? (Comprehension, fluency, etc). Those reading factors will become second nature to your kids if you teach them that reading is enjoyable FIRST.
So many reading "systems" these days are just choking the life out of reading, when fostering a love for reading goes SUCH a long way to help your student or child naturally with fluency and comprehension.
Great! So you get it and you are ON BOARD. You can facilitate a book study for kids of ANY age. Let's get started!
Take these points into consideration before you start your book club for kids:
Before your club, think about:
- Will your book club be in person or digital? Are online book clubs for elementary students a good idea?
- In person - You'll need to decide a good meeting spot. Think about what age group of children will be meeting together. If very young, your home or a place where the littles can "wiggle", like a park! If your kids are a little older or into their teen years, you may have more flexibility to try different spots like a restaurant, library or coffee shop.
- Online- If you choose to meet online, it will be a totally different type of meeting. You can choose a medium like Facebook, or a group-type app, like WhatsApp to host discussions. You can agree or announce a time to "meet", and type out different question for participants to answer from home. Online book clubs for elementary students are a great idea for home and classroom reading.
- What age group will your group be? - There will probably be a wide range of reading abilities within your group, so be mindful of keeping within a small range of ages so kids will have more fun and feel comfortable with each other.
- How big or small do you want your book club to be? - Keep in mind that you'll want everyone to have a chance to be able to speak and share what they've learned about the book. (Nothing could be more frustrating than being excited to share your feelings about a book and never getting the chance!) So, keep your club small. If you have a ton of participants, maybe split into groups. If you are online, you can probably invite more people and everyone can contribute more easily through text.
- How do you plan to find kids to be in the book club?
- Decide which books you'll be doing ahead of time so that people can decide if this book club is right for them.
- Make sure your choice of books fits the age group range of the kids that you are hosting for.
- Do not pick books that have controversial topics (unless you clear that with parents ahead of time).
- DO pick books that have rich characters, plot twists and lots of great conversation starters that will make kids THINK.
- Set specific dates and times so people can plan ahead.
Things to consider during your bookclub:
- What questions will you ask? Have a book club questions for kids "master list" ready to facilitate discussion.
- What major points of the story would you like to focus on?
- Again consider the ages in your group. Make questions thought-provoking, yet easy to answer for young ones, and emotion-provoking for teens. Get their opinions to start coming out!
- Spread out questions that fall under these three categories:
- Factual questions to help them recall the story, ("What was the name of the farmer?")
- Opinion questions about what happened in the story. ("Should the farmer have chased the children out of the field?"
- Thought-provoking, more philosophical questions. THIS is where you can really get the kids talking.
Here are some ideas of thought-provoking questions or book club questions for kids you might ask:
- If you were (one of the characters), would you have done the same thing?
- How would you have done this differently?
- How would you feel if you were (name a character)?
- What would a better ending to the story have been?
- Which character is your favorite? Why?
- What was your favorite/least favorite character?
- What was your favorite/least favorite thing that happened in the story?
- How would you rate this book? (Do something fun, like a clapping scale, or a boo or a hurray!)
- This is where you should spend the bulk of your time in book club, so plan for that.
- Consider the personalities of your kids as you lead the group.
- If your book club is online, kids can simply not respond, so your are just throwing questions out there and letting them respond as they like, but if your club is
- In person, be respectful of all personality types. Your goal is to make this club a GREAT EXPERIENCE for each child and to provide an opportunity for kids to LOVE reading. Some of the children may be struggling readers or just shy personalities, so be mindful to give them a chance to speak (or not speak).
- Be patient with slow responders. Some kids take a moment or two to respond, so wait to hear an answer if you can see they are thinking.
- Make sure every child gets a chance to respond. Don't leave anyone out!
- Do something with ACTION. Find a way to get wiggles out periodically, or even "act out" some of the story if it's called for.
- Provide a VISUAL. For instance, at our last book club, which was meant to discuss My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, we had a falconer come to the club to talk about falcons and bird training. Or, you could show a quick 2-4 minute YouTube video about something pertaining to your book.
- Teach at least ONE thing. Use the opportunity! Teach to something applicable to the story so the kids walk away having learned something about the subject of the book.
- Be a moderator, not a preacher. Since this is a book club, and you want to get kids EXCITED about the books, your goal is to get THEM talking about the book as much as you can. This won't happen if you (or the other parents) are doing all the talking.
- Include FOOD. Did I really need to mention this one? 🙂 Have a sign-up sheet so that parents can take turns bringing the snack. Make sure you don't bring anything someone may be allergic to, so check beforehand!
- Host one or two at a park or a different quiet location.
- Include one or two activities with the group that are just FUN and not book club related. That way the kids build relationships with each other and then look even MORE forward to book club time.
- Keep parents in the loop - maybe even give them something to do! (Drink coffee and discuss their own book in a different room?)
- Give parents resources for finding the books, maybe talk about whether to read aloud, use audio, or have the child read.
- Give your book club a special name - "The Underground Resistance Book Club", "Cool Kids Book Club", or maybe have your kids come up with something fun!
Here's a cute video that gives a few fun tips for creating a bookclub from Jr. Mojo. Enjoy!
Book clubs for kids are a great way to foster a love of reading.
For struggling readers especially, finding joy in a book and then sharing it with friends can be a great way to increase fluency and reading comprehension. And all beginning readers can benefit from the incentive to read!
Don't forget that book clubs are great for any age! If you can find ways to make it worthwhile, getting your teens involved in a book club can be fun too. Ask your teen if there is a popular book that a group might like to discuss. Make sure you buy lots of pizza and food for a teen get-together and it will be a hit!
Good luck setting up your book club! By now, you should have a great idea of what you need and what you need to be thinking about to make your book club a successful one. You understand the answer to "Why have a book club?" and you are ready to get started.
Let us know in the comments below if you run or have run a book club, and if you have any additional tips or ideas!