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Start with the basics
First, decide on what kind of book club you want, suggest Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp in The Kids' Book Club Book (Penguin, 2007). Will it be co-ed or all one sex? Do you want to target a particular age range? Are parents welcome to participate? Then, choose a name that reflects who you are – for example, my seven-year-old daughter's all-girl group call themselves the GRUBs (Girls Rule Book Club).
Select a size that fits
Smaller is better, advises Lisa Doucet, assistant manager of Woozles, Canada's oldest children's bookstore, in Halifax. Aim for between six and 12 members, depending on age and personality. Generally, the younger the members, the smaller the group.
When we started my daughter's book club, we simply invited all of her friends in her Grade 2 class who liked to read. Tweens or teens can e-mail buddies to see if they want to get together to discuss a book – and even hold meetings online. If you're having difficulty finding members, consider posting a flyer at your local library or children’s bookstore, or in the school newsletter.
Decide when and where to meet
Once you set a time, try to stick with it. Most groups opt for monthly meetings. Allow enough time for members to talk about the book, enjoy a snack and socialize. Many book clubs take turns meeting at one another's homes, with the host family providing a snack, but kids can also meet at their school or public library or a bookstore.
Choose the right books
Let the kids drive the book selection, advises Doucet. They're more likely to read and enjoy a book they've chosen themselves. Let each member suggest a book, then have a group vote at the end of the meeting. Or, if your club takes turns organizing, the child hosting the following month can choose the book. If you're looking for suggestions, most bookstores publish a recommendation list, as do publishers' websites. Or check out www.kidsreads.com.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find more advice on getting your kids to join a book club on page 2
Get everyone involved
It's helpful to have one person lead the discussion and make sure things run smoothly. With younger kids that could be the host parent. Book club guides, which you can use to start the discussion, are included at the back of some books, or are available online or at the library. Make sure members know it’s important to respect one another's thoughts and ideas, says Doucet. Set some ground rules: no interrupting, there are no right or wrong answers, and everyone gets a chance to speak.
Keep them coming back
Plan activities, crafts, meals or outings inspired by the book. The GRUBs all went to see the play Anne of Green Gables after reading the book. Arlee Venier, a librarian at the Castlegar and District Public Library in Castlegar, B.C., says her Castlegar Rockin' Readers, ages six to eight, enjoy making pages for their book club scrapbooks. Shannon South from Palmerston, Ont., started a mom-and-kids' book club for herself and her nine year-old twins, and when they finished Holes by Louis Sachar, they planned a special meal taken from the book.
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|This story was originally titled "Starting a Kids Book Club" in the March 2009 issue. |
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