Book Clubs for Children
Book clubs for children can be a wonderful way of fostering a lifelong love of reading and expanding their minds as well as providing a forum to build important skills such as public speaking, debate and viewing things from different perspectives. They are also a great opportunity for children to socialise and meet new friends.
Running Book Clubs for ChildrenIn many respects, book clubs for children mirror those for adults. They can be started just as simply, by getting together a group of children who like to read – either by asking through friends or putting up posters at school, library, church or other community places that children frequent.
Reliable attendance in children can be a bigger problem than in adults, so first make sure that only serious “bookworms” are recruited to the club and secondly, impress upon all members the importance of regular attendance and also of completing the book!
MembersAs with adults, 8-12 kids is a good number for a successful book club. One thing to check with children is whether they are happy for the club to be “co-ed” or whether they would prefer to keep it to one gender. Children often go through stages when the opposite sex is regarded as a “disgusting enemy” and it must also be remembered that boys will often want to read distinctly different books from girls. In particular, it is well-known that boys will generally not read a story with a girl as the protagonist whereas girls do not have a problem reading stories about boys. Remember also that boys can often be slower and less adept than girls in terms of both literacy and verbal communication and this can affect book club discussions. All children must be reminded also that this is a club for the discussion of books and not an excuse to gossip and party!
RulesPerhaps even more than with adults, it is important to lay down ground rules with regards to things like how books are chosen and the time set to read them, to prevent things like arguments and tantrums. It is also important when considering the frequency of meetings and setting the schedule to remember that children usually need to be dropped off and picked up (unless the club is made up of members from a very localised neighbourhood who can all make their own way to the meetings) so parents have to be consulted and their own schedules have to be taken into account. Also, if holding the meetings at different members’ homes, parents will have to be consulted again to see if they are willing to host a group of children in their living rooms and provide the necessary supervision.
If the children are older, one responsible child can be appointed the club “secretary” to keep track of things. However, it is still a good idea to involve an adult such as a parent, teacher or librarian, at least at the beginning while the club is being established. This is particularly helpful for the discussions which may need some guidance from a “leader” until the children get used to the format.
Choosing BooksWhen it comes to book selections, starting from members’ bookshelves can be a good idea as if a child has enjoyed a book; there is a good chance that other children in the same age group will too. In addition to reading new titles, it can also be very enjoyable re-reading old classics or even re-reading popular books with a reading group guide to provide challenging questions and give kids new ways to think about the material. Going to the library and asking librarians can also produce new ideas for books and discussions.
Online Book Clubs for ChildrenWhether you are looking for ideas and information to stimulate your discussions, a supplier of titles for your book club or simply a way of purchasing good children’s books at discounted prices, several online book clubs can be a great resource:
Red House – a fantastic online supplier of children’s books, with better prices than many bookstores, this website also offers the “Reading Room” where young book lovers can interact in an online community. Features include “Book of the month” for two age ranges - 9-12 years and 12 years plus, accompanied by discussion notes, author information and even a chance to ask the author a question and win a signed copy of their book!
These Books of the Month are available at a special discount when you buy four titles for your own book club and there are also additional competitions with prizes that include signed books, electronic goods and even invitations to exclusive events. A regular newsletter provides the latest news from the book world as well as keeping children up to date on any book-related events. For older kids who are Internet-savvy, there is an online message board where they can chat to fellow bookworms about their favourite books and authors or even share their own stories and poems, as well as fun downloads such as games and pictures to colour.
Books for Children – this is more of a straightforward discount or commercial book club, with a commitment to buying 6 books in the first year of membership and a regular monthly magazine that comes with recommendations and special offers, as well as sneak previews, competitions and freebies. All books are delivered to the home and there is wide range of titles, from pop-up books for toddlers to reference guides for teenagers. The club also offers savings on tapes, toys and CD-ROMS.
Scholastic Book Clubs – these are more educationally-orientated and are usually run through the school, giving students a chance to buy a wide range of books in their age group at discounted prices. There are 5 clubs, based on age ranges from 3-5 year olds to 11-14 year olds and the clubs are usually run in each school class.