Start a Book Club!
Whether it’s Oprah’s TV audience or a bunch of friends at a coffee shop, a book club can be a fabulous way to fall in love with reading. But there’s no reason to wait for adulthood! Even fourth graders can get in on the action, with a little help, of course, from parents.; As with all group situations, there should be a few guidelines to make sure your child's club is a success.
This is a great project for your child to do over the summer, to help giver her a leg up on that summer reading, making it fun and engaging at the time same time. She'll be keeping her mind active and building up her critical thinking skills as she explores and expands upon important concepts and themes from the books she reads. Most importantly, because your child will be doing this project with her friends, she'll have a blast along the way.
What You Need:
- Reading books (one for each child)
What You Do:
- Parents, make sure everyone in the book club understands that attendance is very important. Limiting the number of members to no more than six usually works best for this age group. Eight should be your maximum, but of course there will be some times when not everyone can make it.
- The easiest way to get a group together is by phone or e-mail. Those who are interested in reading and discussing books are not a hard find, especially if they are friends. Help your child to invite some of her friends Her friends can even invite someone else they know who might want to join in. You and your child can even make up invitations together to send out to each person.
- Once the memberships have been confirmed, it's a great idea to lay down some guidelines. It's ok to be somewhat involved in the process. You can think of yourself as a facilitator. What book will everyone start off reading Does this group like fantasy, mystery, chapter books? Take a short survey and decide on a book before the first meeting.
- Another helpful strategy to keep the group running smoothly is to appoint a person (a parent) as the head contact to set up a schedule and a list of books to be read before the meetings. Make sure that there are at least two parents at every book club meeting. One parent can run the meeting; the other one can help with all the inevitable spillover—kids who get confused about a page; kids who drop their snacks…you know the drill!
- Next, pick a time to meet. Once a month is ideal during the school year, but if everyone's around, you can do this weekly over the summer, especially if your school sends out summer reading lists.
- Another important component is the question of where the club will meet? If possible, each member can host at their home, or pick another location like the local park or library.
- The group will want to know what to bring—the book, of course, and snacks if you are meeting within a club member’s home.
- To keep the club on track, a parent should lead the discussion until the club gets the hang of the format. The parent leader (this can be a different parent each meeting) should work to keep the group focused on asking questions and promoting dialogue. Try opening the meeting with one 15-20 minute hands-on activity from the book, and then transition to a discussion for about 20-30 minutes. One hour for the entire meeting is usually just the right amount of time. Any longer and you may be in trouble!
- At the close of each meeting, a vote should be taken to decide on the next book the group will read, as well as next meeting date.
- Keep a record! It can be hard for fourth graders to remember month to month what they've discussed, so it's a great idea to keep an ongoing record of the books they've read. Have the kids make an album—either individually or as a group—with a page for each book. On each page, they should write the title of the book, its author, draw a representative picture and, of course, thumbs up or thumbs down. Would you recommend this book to others?
- With luck, the book club will lead to great things. Who knows...this may become a tradition for years to come!
The contagious enthusiasm your child will feel from being a part of a reading group may spark you to join or start your own book club too!