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Book Clubs: Not just for grown-ups anymore



Kids, teens and adults can join in the fun together

Book clubs are not just for adults anymore


Book clubs are fashionable these days. At one point avid readers met in coffee shops, bookstores, libraries and living rooms.

And now it's those Zoom book club meet ups. 

This is also a great time to set up a book club at home...with kids and adults. 

There are excellent reasons for both creating and joining book groups that go well beyond following the latest trend. 

Here are some reasons both you and your child should consider joining a book group:

The Call to Read

A well-organized book club meets regularly to discuss a selected book. Discussion leaders may be fixed or rotating, but one person is clearly in charge at each meeting. Wherever the group gathers there will be some sort of agenda in which the content of the book—the writing style, the characters, plot and much more are dissected and analyzed. Varying viewpoints are offered and the group can either come to consensus or agree to disagree on certain conclusions. Book discussions are a chance to step outside the usual activities of the day and “live” in another world created by the author. If you’re interested in being a lifelong learner, this sort of discussion is healthy for you.

For the Kids

Now, consider what a kid’s book club might accomplish. The same interest in various genres of children’s literature, analysis of character and plot and the freedom to like or dislike the book apply. Kids greatly increase their reading comprehension skills and their enjoyment of the reading process when they engage in discussion related to the nuts and bolts of a book.

Social Aspects of a Book Club

Book groups offer a sense of belonging and fulfill a desire for regular social interactions with people of similar interests. You may be stretched to read books you would never choose on your own. You may hear ideas that would never have entered your mind when reading alone. Book discussions bring out strong opinions, encourage personal openness and provide a lot of laughter and camaraderie. If you are meeting in person, add a simple meal or snacks and beverages, and you have a great social event.

For the Kids

No surprise. Kids enjoy all of the above elements of a book discussion. With guidance and the proper questions they can enter into book discussions and begin to form opinions on what they like and dislike. They benefit from hearing the ideas of other kids and get some valuable practice in expressing their ideas and opinions in a group. They enjoy exposure to a wide variety of writing.  Plus, they enjoy snacks and drinks in the company of their peers.

Reading with a Purpose

A third reason to belong to a book club is the motivation they provide to keep reading. Adults know the benefits of exercising our gray cells as we age and nothing does that better than reading. In a group there is encouragement to go deeper and address questions posed. We’ll pay more attention to detail and perhaps be spurred on to further background reading to extend our understanding. We’ll engage.

READ MORE: Family Read-alouds: Fun with Poetry

For the Kids

Guess what? Kids enjoy reading more when they read with a purpose. They may be looking for the elements of a story—beginning, middle, and ending, or focusing on the choices the characters make in a certain book. They love to talk about the ins and outs of the chosen story, maybe changing the ending or writing themselves into the plot.

Clear Communication

Communication skills are enhanced in a reading group. We engage in active listening to hear various opinions, we pose questions and delve into the books to find answers. We may even do some writing related to the book selected. Those who lead the group will find that choosing or creating the discussion questions is valuable in itself. Members both give and receive information.

For the Kids

Many children, even top students, find speaking before a group intimidating. But when a group gathers for the express purpose of talking about the latest book read together, the barriers come down. Kids like to express their opinions and “get over” their worries about public speaking. A kid’s book club is a great “next step” in listening, thinking and speaking in front of others.

READ MORE: Ten Tips for Boosting Your Child’s Reading Skills

What Next?

If you aren’t in a book group, search for one. Libraries have a great list.  Or, form your own group.  Invite friends and colleagues to gather on a regular basis to read great books. Are you a mystery fan? Science Fiction or Fantasy? Romance? Look for groups that focus specifically on your favorite genre.

Or, form a moms and dads and kids group to read great children’s literature together. A read-aloud followed by a short discussion and maybe a follow-up craft or writing project would be a great format for a this book club. Craft too much trouble, add drinks and snacks for more fun. 

For help on forming book clubs and the many shapes they may take, go to:

http://www.litlovers.com/start-a-book-club

https://www.bookbrowse.com/bookclubs/advice/index.cfm/fuseaction/starting_club

http://www.ilovelibraries.org/booklovers/bookclub

http://www.pbs.org/parents/education/reading-language/reading-tips/how-to-start-a-book-club-for-kids/

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: We asked Sara Scoggan from the Newburgh Free Library to suggest books that both kids and adults would enjoy sharing together. See her suggestions below. 

  • Classics such as Charlotte's Web, or the Chronicles of Narnia or Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankelweiler by E.L. Konigsburg or Half Magic by Edgar Eager or The Wizard of OZ (compare to the movie after)

  • Wordless books are fabulous for family read alouds because many ages can take a turn and tell their own version! Ex. The Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker

  • (Fun) Biographies such as Cheaper by the Dozen or The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, (a picture book biography)

  • Silly picture books like Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin or a serious picture book for older readers such as Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

  •  A top idea in Sara's opinion: classic fairy tales never get old!

  • Sara also suggested that you check out Read Aloud Revival for tips on creating a read culture in the family and great open ended discussion questions that can be used with all ages. 

You also might want to check out this list of 104 suggested books on Goodreads.comThen order the books through your public library. Have a fun night reading, sharing stories and maybe a good snack.

Jan Pierce, M.Ed., is a retired teacher and the author of
Homegrown Readers and Homegrown Family Fun. She specializes in education, parenting and family life articles. Find Jan at www.janpierce.net
.



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