how to start a kids book club

How to Start a Kids’ Book Club

Young readers can experience a wide range of motivation levels.  Some kids love reading and begin to devour all the print they can get their hands on; others might struggle through each new sentence; and everything in between. 

One way to strengthen readers’ interest and enthusiasm toward books is through interactive support in a positive environment. A kids’ book club can be a great opportunity for children of all reading abilities to develop these strengths. Plus, it’s always more fun to read a great book when you have a friend to talk about it with.

Whether you’re a parent who wants to help your child start their book club or a teacher who needs ideas for fun kids’ reading activities, this article is for you. Here are 11 tips for starting a kids’ book club they will love.

1. Choose a Book Club Theme

First, choose a theme for your kids’ book club. Here are a few ideas and examples:

  • Age/grade: 8-10 year olds, first graders, 2nd-4th graders
  • Shared interest: Pets, adventure, unicorns, superheroes
  • Community-based: Neighborhood book club, English as an Additional Language reading club, or book club for kids with ASD 
  • Family: “Mommy & Me” book club or a siblings book club
  • Seasonal: Book clubs for summer, holidays, monthly, etc.
  • Books that became movies: Read books that were made into movies (such as Harry Potter)

You can make the book club “theme” as basic or as niched-down as your participants would like!

2. Invite Members

Recruit kids and families who want to join the book club. Feel free to include parents, volunteers, and teachers. 

Aim to have 6-10 child participants. Six ensures there will be enough participants during inevitable absences and 10 remains small enough that members won’t feel overwhelmed or left out.

3. Set a Meeting Location

Where will the book club take place? There are several go-to locations for reading sessions:

  • At someone’s house where there is room for distraction-free group activity 
  • A local community center that offers private study rooms
  • The children’s section at a local library
  • In a low-volume picnic park if weather permits
  • Online via Zoom 

You could try alternating where the book club meets, but it’s ideal to keep one consistent location.

4. Create a Schedule 

Set up a recurring meeting schedule that all members can attend. Decide what months, days of the week, and times your books club will gather. Keep things consistent, as children thrive (and learn better!) with clear expectations.

5. Specify the Duration of Meetings

How long will each book club session last? How much time should you plan to focus on each book on the list? 

There’s no “one size fits all” answer here. It depends on several factors:

  • Age of participants: Beginner book clubs likely involve short picture books that can be read in one sitting (for example: read for 20 minutes, discuss for 20 minutes, and then have snacks). Kids reading chapter books may want to read one chapter per session and then discuss.
  • Purpose of book club: are you using books as a gateway to social interaction? Is this a book club for struggling readers who require more guided attention? These considerations might affect the length of your meetings. 

For new book clubs, you can expect to learn the cadence and duration of sessions after the first few meetings. See what works/what doesn’t, and adapt accordingly.

6. Establish Some Ground Rules

Set up 3-5 fundamental rules for the book club that clearly state the “Do’s and Don’ts” for participants. Rules may include:

  • Be respectful of others. We are all still learning, and it’s okay to make mistakes. 
  • One share at a time. Allow each participant to read/share when it’s their turn. Don’t interrupt others.
  • No smart devices during book club. Put away cell phones, video games, etc. and silence notifications so everyone can focus.
  • Contribute to the group. Share your thoughts, questions, curiosities, and highlights about what we read. Compliment and encourage each other.

7. Select Titles for the Book Club 

Before selecting book club books for kids, one word of advice: aim to choose books that the least advanced reader in the group can read. 

Kids with stronger reading skills can follow along and stay interested in books that are “easy” for them. However, children who are still developing their skills cannot enjoy books that are too difficult for them to approach. 

To facilitate a good book club for kids, you need interesting books. Introduce and watch book trailers to gain interest in a book. 

Some book clubs present a list of options, take member votes, and then start with the most-voted books. 

You could also let each child choose a book as long as it’s within the theme. Or, you can pre-determine the books most suitable for your book club theme.

8. Come Up With Fun Activities

Participants who don’t know each other yet will need an “icebreaker” activity. Come prepared to facilitate and lead these types of activities each session.

Kids’ activities to consider as the book club progresses are:

  • Recite your favorite quote from your favorite character in the book
  • Go on a book-themed scavenger hunt
  • Book trivia with prizes
  • Act out the scene 
  • Draw yourself into the book’s story 
  • Popcorn reading 
  • Reading relays

Activities keep kids engaged and change up the process during sessions. It’s all part of the fun!

9. Prepare Questions for Book Club

Along with fun activities, come prepared with book club questions for kids. 

Help book club facilitator(s) (whether it be you or another adult) lead effectively by preparing thoughtful questions and discussion prompts ahead of time. You don’t want club members to show up, read a few pages, and then… *crickets*. 

Questions for before the reading: Ask questions about what was read previously to encourage memory recall and give context. Or, you can introduce the new book (or chapter) and ask questions about what participants think might happen. 

Questions for after the reading: Ask specific questions about readers’ thoughts and connections they made about the story. These types of questions encourage reading comprehension, discussion, and active listening.

10. Plan Snacks and Breaks

Kids need to take breaks—and refuel. Leave room for bathroom breaks, giggles, wiggles, snack time, and wandering minds. Children’s book clubs shouldn’t be rigid or boring.

Snacks are sometimes one of the best parts of book clubs, so get creative here:

  • Arrange “themed” snacks for the first and last days of book club
  • Change up snack options every other session for variety—healthy, savory, sweet, etc.
  • Pass out a sign-up sheet to rotate snack duty among participants 

Enjoy snacks and social time before reading, in between reading and discussion, or after reading. Avoid allowing snacks during the activities or discussion—it can get distracting.

11. Maintain Group Communication and Responsibility

Set up a group communication system to keep everyone updated on the book club. 

  • Obtain parent emails and phone numbers to set up a group email or text thread. 
  • Create spreadsheets, shared calendars, and other digital communication to keep track of regular announcements and stay organized. 

For a children’s book club that involves parents or other supportive adults, offer leadership opportunities and rotate facilitator duties. Every adult leads differently, which gives kids a chance to learn from different engagement styles and personalities of parents. Rotating the responsibility also gives the group organizer a break from doing all the work.

More Fun Ideas for Kids’ Book Club and Reading Activities 

Your child’s first book club can have a positive impact on their reading journey. Whether you want to find a book club or start one yourself, it’s surely worthwhile.

We hope you feel more prepared to involve your child in the wonderful joys of book club! For more kids’ book club ideas and reading tips, join the community today.

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