No two parent-child books clubs are alike. There are many ways to run a book club to ensure success. However, the following structure may help you to begin planning your parent-child book club. As your group progresses, you will surely add you own unique twists to this basic structure.
- Welcoming Activity
To set participants at ease, many book clubs begin with a welcoming activity in which all members participate. This activity is relatively short and most often related to the book participants have read. For example, participants may share one new or interesting word they learned from the book, share a short entry from their reading journal, or name their favorite character from the book.
A portion of each book club meeting is usually devoted to announcements. For example, members may want to tell others about upcoming events at local libraries or schools, or discuss the book club schedule.
- Book Discussion
Discussion is the heart of the book club, and the majority of time should be devoted to discussion. Depending upon the size of the group and the ages of the children, discussion can range from 20 minutes to about an hour. Whether your book club’s discussion is led by parents, children, or both, it is a good idea to have some questions prepared ahead of time.
- Extension Activities
Some book clubs provide opportunities for members to complete activities to accompany books. For instance, after reading “Call It Courage” by Armstrong Sperry, parents and their fourth-graders in one book group built miniature outrigger canoes based on the book’s rich description of life in the South Pacific.
Both children and parents look forward to a portion of the meeting in which they can talk informally and share a snack. Many book clubs plan snacks related to the book being discussed, such as magic wand cookies for a Harry Potter meeting.
- Book Rating
To close discussion of a book, many book clubs offer an opportunity for members to rate the book. Using an agreed-upon system, such as a star or number system, each book club member rates the book and briefly states the reason for his rating. The club’s organizer can keep track of the books the club has read and the ratings each book received to share with other book clubs.
- Book Talks and Book Selection
After the current book has been discussed fully, it is time to agree on the club’s next selection. Many book clubs do this by having children bring in books they are interested in reading and doing a short "book talk" or a summary of their books. After book talks, the group can vote on the next book to be read. While it is ideal for children to find books that interest them, they may need some help with book selection. Parents as well as librarians and teachers can provide children with suggestions for books appropriate for book clubs.
Here is a partial listing of books a mother-daughter book club enjoyed over a four-year span of time. The book club was formed when the girls were in third grade and continued until the end of eighth grade. As the girls grew and matured, so did the books and discussions.
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan
To Grandmother’s House We Go by Willo Davis Roberts
Goody Hall by Natalie Babbitt
Anpao: An American Indian Odyssey by Jamake Highwater
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Lyddie by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Animal Farm by George Orwell
1984 by George Orwell
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
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