Tuesday, May 1, 2012

5 Steps to Start a Kid Centered Book Club and Build Community

With summer inching it’s glorious rays closer, parents and kids fix their eyes upon the calendar. Kids counting the days of unending fun, and parents wondering how to include both good times and good learning throughout long, summer days.

The answer to making memories, building community, and extending learning? A kid-centered book club. Last summer, our family invited several families we knew and a few we hoped to know better to a kids’ book club. The result?

Book Club Members celebrating Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Fondue.

Here's five easy steps to start your own kid-centered book club:

1. Make the Guest List. Have your child help create a list of about five friends to invite to the book club.
2. Decide on a Book. I recommend choosing a book that can be easily paired with memorable extension activities. Example: Not only did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory have a movie to accompany the book, but our book club participants enjoyed chocolately fondue, chocolate milk, and chocolate kisses.
3. Send Invitations. Create an evite to help keep invitations free and attendance easy to track.
4. Choose the Venue. Decide on a place and time for the meeting. An hour and a half seems to be the perfect amount of time.
5. Rotate Responsibilities. Take turns rotating book choice and hosting responsibilities between club members. Whoever picks the book is the next host. By rotating  around, you get to visit both parents and kids in their own home. 

Now, I know what you are thinking...

I’m not sure what books are right for my child’s grade level. No problem. Kids’ Book Club Books has a recommendation page.

I’m just not creative enough to come up with fun ideas to pair with books. Not an issue. There are many creative types who have already put together recipes and activities. Consider making Fern’s Spider Cakes (from Charlotte’s Web) or Dandelion Juice (from Harry Potter).

I don’t know the kids (or the parents) my child wants to invite to book club. Even more reason to get planning. Kid-centered book clubs are a great way to build community.

I’m still in need of a little push. Fine, fine. Bounce around NPR’s Backseat Book Club: questions from kids, answers from authors, and endless encouragement to keep reading.

I’m not sure what my kids will find interesting. Perfect! It’s a great time to push classics from your day on them. What about Super Fudge, Bridge to Teribithia, or Diecy’s Song?

But I don't have the money. Did you know libraries lend out entire sets of books? Yes, my friend Michele talks about this little fact and teaches readers to library like they mean it. Click here for a little inspiration from the bookshelves.

Flashback: What is one of the first books from childhood that ignited your love of reading?

Linking with Jen and girls.

*I initially wrote this post for MomItForward. 



HopeUnbroken said...

oh my word. you're determined to get me off my rear end and do something, aren't you?
oh, yeah. i guess that's kinda the whole inspiration for your blog :-)
hmmm. the Black Stallion series is the first that i was totally obsessed with as a kid and made reading a lifelong love for me.
this is a great idea. so wish i had thought of it first :-) my friends are always trying to get ME in a book club. . . never thought of doing one with the kiddos. i love it.
and we may just have to start with one that ends with fondue. . . .
happy tuesday!

bluecottonmemory said...

It's always such a struggle to find books for boys. One of our favorites is Michael Spradlin's Knight's Templar Series. Another series I've tried to get my boys involved is is G.A. Henty's books - they were written for boys around the turn of the century. Sadly, the vocabulary is at too high a level for boys today!

Loraine said...

Once again, this is a great idea! I might have to shelf it for a little while, you know, till the boys can actually read.:)
Ramona Quimby age 8 and Are you there God, it's me Margare?. Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. Fun flashbacks!

Amy @ themessymiddle said...

Love, love, love this! Last summer my sister had a book club for her daughter and other going-into-5th grade girls. They read three books (one for June, one for July, and one for August) -- I live in China but was able to be there for the first two. Some true highlights:

1. I've been to several adult book groups, but no one raises their hands. Maybe we should :)
2. If someone had listened to the book, she couldn't help using the voice of the reader when referring to it.
3. Snacks were a BIG highlight.

Her younger daughters were a bit jealous so I decided to read a book to them outloud. It was a highlight of the summer (and let's just say forgot about the scene in "Where the Red Fern Grows" where a boy is running with an ax and fell into it. I'll never forget it again!).

Thee FireWife said...

Boxcar Children. I wanted to be Violet soooo bad! You know, other than the dead parents part. I thought living in a boxcar would be ah-mazing.

Alene said...

Love this. Don't remember the name of the book but it was a favorite about a horse. You are so talented and organized. Love it girl.


Nicole said...

This idea is amazing... I'm pinning you now! Obviously my kids are a bit too young for this but I don't want to forget it for later. Thanks for sharing!

Kathy said...

Awesome idea, Amy! Thank you for all the info and suggestions. Your post is so helpful! My oldest is finishing up fourth grade this year. Probably a perfect summer to start doing a book club. Thanks :)

Courtney said...

You are sooo good - you lay out all the resources! Love this idea. As for the childhood book that first pops to my mind . . . Black Beauty.

Jill @ Craft in a Northern Town said...

Great idea! I wish someone would've done this when I was a kid. Loved the Ramona books and the Little House on the Prairie books, then the Outsiders and the Arrows of the Queen. Man, I could go on and on about books I read as a kid. :)(And I LOVE Michelle's blog too!)

Abby Dumont said...

Love the motive behind your blog, Amy. Is it just me or has God been doing a crazy shake up in the "American Dream Styled Christian Faith"? He always intended for us to love the least of these, to pour ourselves out every moment for him.

But I so often miss it.

A book club is another way to serve people. Kiddos.


Jennifer @ GettingDownWithJesus.com said...

Brilliant. Love this. Love your brilliant mind.

Michele said...

Thanks for the sweet mention, Amy. The Secret Garden started me on a life long love affair with reading, and I'm blessed to be having a second childhood due to reading books with my kids. Highly recommend "The One And Only Ivan."

Amy Sullivan said...

Me, oh, my. I didn't even respond. Boy, there are loads of goodies mentioned.

Hmmm, what would you think if I told you Sweet Valley High books turned me into a reader? Yes, they are sappy and in virtually every book, Jessica and Elizabeth have the same issue, but I bought those things right off the shelves.

lori said...

This sounds like a lot of fun. You are always coming up with great ideas, and you've taken away every excuse not to try this one. Thanks for the resources. Your creativity has no end :)

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