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Book Clubs for Teenagers

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 11 Jul 2020 | comments*Discuss
Teenager Teens Books Meetings Book Clubs

If you’re thinking of forming a club for like-minded teenagers to get together and have fun, why not consider a book club? Reading groups don’t have to follow the stereotype of stuffy meetings filled with nerdy snobs – in fact, book clubs can be a great arena for teenagers to make new friends and chat about their favourite books and authors – and even be introduced to great new reads they might otherwise never have thought of. After all, who better to recommend a good book than a fellow teenager?

Setting up a Teen Book Club

The easiest way to get started is just to call, text or email a few friends who love reading too and arrange a time and place to get together but for a greater chance for your book club to be successful, it’s best to go about it with a bit more organisation and planning.

Step 1: Get the news out…

First, let everyone know that you’re starting a book club. You can do this by word of mouth/email/Twitter, putting up posters in school, announcing it on any online group forums you and your friends are participating in – or even mention it on your Facebook page. Suggest a preliminary meeting where everyone can have a voice in deciding where and when to meet, as well as what types of books would go on the reading list. This way, it gives potential members more “ownership” of the club which in turn makes it more likely for them to continue coming and supporting it.

Step 2: Decide when and where…

Take time to discuss with everyone and decide a suitable place and time to meet. If you get your school’s support, you might be able to use an empty classroom or even a corner of the library, which would be safe and easy access. Otherwise, if parents are on board, different members can take turns hosting the meetings at their houses but this would be slightly more inconvenient as many teens may need to rely on their parents for transport. Similarly with a time to meet – if you can do it during school hours (eg. the lunch break) or even straight after school, this might be easier for everyone than trying to find a slot when everyone is free on the weekend (and parents can help to transport them!).

It’s also a good idea to decide on the frequency of meetings at this point, to find a schedule that would suit everybody, bearing in mind homework, sports and other extra-curricular activities as well as family commitments. Monthly meetings work best if you want everyone to have read the whole book – but if you’re worried about losing momentum and interest with such long intervals, then you can arrange to have fortnightly meetings where members are only expected to have read certain sections of the book – therefore, each book will be tackled in chunks.

Step 3: Decide what…

Next, decide how books will be selected. Do you want to cover a wide selection of types and genres or do you just want to keep the club focused on a particular genre of fiction (eg. fantasy)? One of the best things about starting your own book club is that you don’t have to read only what the school curriculum dictates. You can really have the chance to follow your own interests and passions when it comes to book selections.

It is a good idea to let everyone have a say in selecting the titles – aside from preventing resentment and improving people’s loyalty to the club through the sense of ownership, it’s also a great way to introduce a wide variety of books as everyone’s tastes will be different. You could either have everyone submit several titles and then have group votes to determine the top 10 – or you could let each person select a book in turn. It’s a good idea to try and resist reading purely according to trends, no matter how “hot” they may be right now – you want this to be a thriving book club and not a Twilight fan club!

Step 4: Decide how…

The best book clubs have leaders that keep the discussions going, ask stimulating questions and prevent it from degenerating into a general gossip free-for-all. After all, remember that you’re here to talk about the book – not Rachael’s new haircut! So it’s a good idea to elect one person to lead the discussion each time – it will be their responsibility to think up some good questions or topics for debate and discussion. They can even get creative and bring movie-tie ins, media articles, author bio's – anything to add to the basic reading of the books and improve everyone’s understanding of the themes and characters.

Refreshments really help to enhance book club meetings but it’s a good idea to ask 2 or 3 people to bring some things to share each time; this way you are not reliant on just one person in case they get sick or suddenly busy and have to be absent.

Step 5: Get creative!

Once your book club is up and running, think of ways to make the discussions even more fun. You could invite authors for guest appearances, organise a day-trip to some place which ties into one of the books, maybe even watch a movie adaptation together. You could even think about joining role-play games based on the books and entering contests related to the books. Throw the challenge out to your friends and see what great ideas you get!

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Hi, I am also looking for a online virtual book club, which my son can participate (like zoom etc), is there any out there?
kennyJ - 11-Jul-20 @ 4:49 PM
Hi I am looking for a teen book club /reading group for my son - 15- to join. He is an avid reader and writer but I can't find one. Can anyone help?
Nani - 14-Nov-19 @ 1:49 PM
Hi I am looking for a teen book club /reading group for my son - 15- to join. He is an avid reader and writer but I can't find one. Can anyone help?
Ani - 13-Jul-15 @ 2:07 AM
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