If you were a child who loved to read, then chances are that you still remember books that were among your favorites when you were young…those that you shared with your friends and classmates. Creating those same opportunities for children to enjoy books together can help them to share literature that they enjoy while having fun along the way. Here are some ideas on how to start a successful book club for young children.
How to Start a Successful Book Club for Young Children
Determine your Goals
First, you must determine what the goal is in your book club. Is it to work on building reading skills? Then select club members who are all working on the same skills and find strategies that allow you to guide the book club discussion (so that those skills may be practiced).
If the goal is to read for enjoyment, then choose children who all have a common interest so that reading materials can be chosen based on those interests. You may want to divide elementary-aged children into boys and girls groups so that the content may be more specifically geared for their interests.
Choose High-Interest Text
Most young children are still working on developing their love of reading. That being said, if a book is of mild interest to them, then there is greater likelihood of their not finishing it. When selecting the book, find materials that will engage the children and keep the conversation going. Choosing genres such as adventure or mystery will keep kids’ interest until the very last page.
Find Reading Material at their Level
There may be lots of children’s classics out there that you would love to share, but a book club will not be successful unless the materials that the group is reading are at their reading levels. Grouping children based on their reading level will help to ensure that the content is not too challenging (or too simple).
If you are working in a classroom setting, there are many tools available for determining a child’s reading level (mostly in the form of simple assessments). If at home, however, you can have a child simply read a paragraph from a chosen book. If most words are known and the child can paraphrase what he read, then you know that the level is appropriate.
Once you determine where each child is as a reader, you are ready to group the children appropriately and select content that they will find exciting to read.
Keep your Book Club Motivated
Older children will find themselves more motivated by simply reading a highly-enjoyable book. Younger children, however, may need additional incentives to keep them going. By providing incentives, such as book club lunches (having a special lunch while discussing what was read) or an end-of-book celebration, the children who are participating will be reminded of how much fun it is to be a part of the group.
Let the Children Lead the Conversation
As the children in the book club meet to discuss what they’re reading, adult supervision will ensure that they stay on-topic. Make it a goal, however, for the kids to be the ones talking. As the adult in the room, creating a few questions about what was read and putting them out there to the group is a good way to get the conversation flowing. Once you’ve asked, sit back and let the kids discuss their ideas about what was read.
Other ideas for what to do during book club meetings include drawing pictures of favorite settings from the book, sketching their mental images of the characters (if pictures weren’t provided) or sharing excerpts that the children found particularly exciting.
Do you have other tips on how to start a successful book club for young children? Please share your ideas.
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