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Once upon a time we lived in a neighborhood that was large enough to have it’s own homeschool group. This meant that there were always fellow homeschool families around for field trips and park days. Another perk of this homeschool friendly neighborhood was our Homeschool Girls Book Club. This idea will absolutely work with boys or a co-ed group, we just happened to have a few female book lovers the same age.
Starting a child’s book club has a few advantages:
- Peer pressure – in a good way! My daughter was more likely to try a book out of her comfort area if her friends were reading it too.
- Makes reading fun – Never have time for all of the book and activities that you pin on Pinterest? Now is the time!
- Socialization – The dreaded ‘S’ word in the homeschool community. Outsiders will leave you alone if you show them a photo of your child doing academic work with other kids roughly the same age!
How to Start a Child’s Book Club
Find a group of kids roughly the same age and reading level
I found our homeschool book club members through our neighborhood group, but you might also find members through co-ops, park days, or field trip groups. It is somewhat important that the kids are reading on similar levels because it makes choosing books easier. Kids should also be around a similar maturity level for ease in finding appropriate books. Books that are appropriate for a 14 year old are going to be different than those suitable for a 9 year old, even if they have a similar reading level.
Make a plan with other parents
Chat with the other parents to come up with a plan and make sure everyone has a similar vision for the book club.
- Will parents take turns hosting?
- What day works best?
- How often to meet?
- Are parents expected to stay or drop off?
- Any general rules?
Choose a book
Parents should choose a book for the first child’s book club meeting. Discuss this choice with the other parents to make sure the kids haven’t read it yet. This discussion will also make sure the parents approve of the choice. I found that occasionally there were books that I had no problem letting my children read that were apparently controversial. There are plenty of books out there, so just skipped controversial titles, at least until the group is well established.
To get book ideas look on Pinterest, your local library recommendations, and Goodreads. Ideally the chosen book will be available at your library to keep expenses low.
Prepare related activities
A children’s book club should involve more than just discussion. They are not miniature adults, so their book club shouldn’t just be an adult book club with juvenile titles. Planning for a few hands on activities keeps the meeting fun. This means that kids will want to keep coming to the meetings. Keeping kids engaged will also prevent behavior issues.
Pinterest is a treasure trove full of activities related to books.
Some ideas that work with most books are:
- Make a beaded bracelet (We used dolphin beads when we read Island of the Blue Dolphins.)
- Create a character or item from the story using perler beads.
- Decorate bookmarks
Set up a few snacks
Snacks keep the kids happy around the table a little longer. Snacks can be as fancy or as simple as you like. We usually set the table for tea because my little group of 10 year old girls loved it. It was very similar to our normal tea with poetry.
Prepare a few discussion questions
This step is easier if you have read the book too. If you don’t have time to read the entire story, at least skim through the chapters to understand the main characters, setting, and plot. The questions should be open ended in order to create an actual discussion, not just a Q and A.
- How did you feel when ___________________?
- Would you have made the same choice as ____________________?
- What was your favorite part?
- Which character was your favorite? Why?
Never put a child on the spot or make them feel uncomfortable at book club. That completely defeats the purpose. Leading the discussion during snack time helps keep the discussion from feeling stressful.
Schedule the next meeting
To keep the book club momentum going, choose the next book and date at the end of each meeting. Choose 4 titles you think the kids will enjoy and prepare a brief synopsis. I usually read the Amazon blurb so they know what it is they are signing up to read. Let the kids vote, but run it by the parents if there is any chance that the book will be controversial.
Have you ever hosted a child’s book club? It is a lot of fun!