Motivating kids to read can be tricky. At Reading Rewards, we believe in exploring every possible avenue to get kids excited about reading — from recommending books they’ll love, to providing fun reading incentives. Another great way to stimulate a child’s appetite for reading is to start a book club for kids. After all, it’s more fun to read a book when your friends are reading it too. When kids participate in a book club, they can have a blast, while they reap the incredible benefits of reading.
In this post, we’ll share 12 helpful tips for starting a book club for kids.
1. Pick a Theme for your Book Club
If you want your kids to feel an attachment to their book club, consider building it around a theme that resonates with them. For theme ideas, look for a common interest among the kids, a specific genre of books they love, or an author or series they enjoy.
2. Name Your Kids’ Book Club
Naming your book club can help participants feel engaged. Pick a catchy name the kids can relate to. Let them participate in the naming process: Come up with a few possibilities, and have the kids vote for their favorite at your first book club meeting.
3. Decide on the Number of Participants
You’ll need to decide how many kids you want to invite to your book club. There are pitfalls to having too many, as well as too few. If your book club is too large, the more reserved kids in the group will have a hard time getting heard. If you have too few participants, you may have trouble keeping the conversation flowing – especially when attendance is low. Aim for somewhere in between eight and fifteen participants.
4. Choose a Meeting Location
Check whether your local library has a meeting room you can use. Otherwise, do what many other book clubs do: Host your meetings in the homes of participants, on a rotational basis. Just make sure that everyone can be seated comfortably in an environment conducive to a group conversation.
5. Ask Other Parents to Volunteer
The parent hosting the book club meeting will have an important role to play in keeping the kids comfortable and engaged. But depending on the size of the group, you may want to enlist the help of at least one other parent volunteer to facilitate the conversation and keep things moving smoothly.
You may also want to propose carpooling arrangements to make the book club as convenient as possible for everyone.
6. Establish Channels of Communication
There will be occasions when you’ll want to communicate with the kids in your book club. You may want to re-schedule meetings, send out book suggestions, or share photos taken at meetings. As a group, agree on the best way to communicate with everyone – whether that’s email, text, telephone or social media – and circulate a signup sheet to collect everyone’s contact information.
7. Decide on the Frequency and Timing of Book Club Meetings
You’ll have to decide how often to hold your kids’ book club meetings. Kids have demanding schedules filled with extra-curricular activities. Aim for meetings every four to six weeks, and plan them with ample notice to avoid a scheduling nightmare.
8. Figure Out Timing
Decide on what days and times are best suited for your kids’ book club meetings. Weekends and evenings work best, depending on the availability of participants. Schedule each meeting for 60 to 90 minutes, depending on whether you’re planning on complimenting your book discussion with another fun activity.
9. Provide Snacks For your Book Club Meetings
Plan some fun snacks to accompany your book discussion. Make sure to take into account food allergies and to include healthy options that are not too messy – i.e. avoid those blueberries and cupcakes topped with heavily colored icing.
For an extra dose of fun, think up imaginative snacks that are related to your theme.
10. Choose Your Books
You knew we had to get to the actual book at some point, right? Create a list of great book possibilities that the kids in your book club can choose from. Your local librarian will have great recommendations for their reading level. You can also ask all participants to send you some books they’re interested in reading, then have everyone vote on their next pick from the consolidated list.
11. Keep the Conversation Flowing
You may find that your kids need a little help to keep the conversation flowing. You can facilitate the discussion by having a bank of questions that you can draw from when conversation lags.
Check the back of the book you’re reading for a book club guide. You may also find relevant questions from a Google search, or at your local library. Alternatively, ask several parents to read the book and note questions along the way.
In addition to questions specific to the book you’re reading, keep a list nearby of generic questions that aren’t specific to any one book.
12. Establish Ground Rules
Kids are full of enthusiasm, which can be very conducive to a lively kids’ book club meeting. Unchecked, it can also lead to chaos. Consider establishing clear ground rules. Here are a few examples:
- No interrupting
- Be respectful
- There are no wrong answers
- Everyone gets a chance to talk
13. Organize Complimentary Activities
Make sure the kids in your book club always leave the meeting with a smile on their faces. One way to do that is to tag onto the book discussion a fun activity that is related to the book you’re reading. For example:
- Create a collage or bookmark related to the theme of the book
- Have the kids dress up as their favorite character and act out a scene
- Draw an alternate book cover
- Create a comic strip based on the storyline
- Invite a local speaker
Over to You!
Have you hosted a kids’ book club meeting? How did it go? Have we missed any tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.