Our days are all booked up from now on! Has lockdown inspired you and your kids to get stuck into some serious reading? It definitely has for us!
Perhaps you’re an eager bookworm and are bursting to tell others about the book you’ve just read or maybe you’ve been getting up to some outdoor fun and simply haven’t had the time to pick up a book? Whatever situation you’ve found yourself in amongst these crazy times, we’re about to revolutionise books and reading by giving you our top tips for how to start your very own kids' book club in the comfort of your own home.
As online teaching starts up again after Easter, a book club is a great and educational activity that is super easy to weave into home-schooling routines that can help encourage older kids to take responsibility of their own learning and allow little ones to read books outside of the curriculum! Not only are book clubs a great way to keep in touch with friends and family but they also help to encourage those who are less keen on reading to read more books and form their own thoughts and opinions about them. Not to mention, reading is a great way to destress and take some time for yourself in these strange circumstances! Check out our top tips down below and get reading today.
1) Get Organised!
The first thing you need to do to start your very own reading club for kids is to decide on the tone and theme of your book club. Depending on how many children you have and their ages, you might decide to focus on one book (the same book for everyone), multiple books or different books based on the age of your children. For younger children we recommend that everyone in the family reads the same book; if your children are super young and aren’t able to master all of the words in the book just yet, it might be an idea to read a chapter before bed and in the morning - that way everyone can participate in the book club! Similarly, if you’re children are older we recommend reading the same book, perhaps one of a more advanced level - be it linguistically or thematically so that discussions are super interesting and unique. Alternatively, if you have children who differ in age, you might want to read two separate books. Perhaps, one parent could read the younger child’s book whilst the other parent reads the older child’s book - not only does this mean that everyone is included but also discussions are bound to be all the more interesting as you hear about what the rest of your family have been reading about! Once you’ve decided on the book, we suggest setting a deadline, whereby everyone finishes the book by the same day - not only does this mean that everyone will be ready to discuss but it also encourages those who struggle to finish books, despite the best intentions.
2) Spread The Word And Get Talking!
Who says book club has to be limited to those in your own home? Why not spread the word to classmates, friends and family members? Remember, the more people involved, the more discussion and the more exciting and informative your book club is likely to be. We know it’s sometimes difficult to communicate in lockdown but your book club is the perfect opportunity to hop on a video call and get talking! Whether you use Zoom (which you can get up to one hundred people on!), Facetime or any other app, digital meetups are just as good as face to face meetups - plus, you can even stay in your pyjamas! Plus, the bigger the group the better your teamwork skills can become - whether it be working together and discussing the meaning of certain themes or debating certain characters within the book, it’s bound to be exciting and educationally beneficial.
3) Let’s Talk Logistics!
Everyone knows the secret to a truly great book club lies in the logistics. If you’re keeping the book club solely within your own home then we suggest setting aside time, perhaps at dinner to discuss what kinds of books everyone is interested in - genres, authors, themes etc. Then make a list and start from the top. Depending on the length of the book and the ages of your kid(s), you might want to set a week, two weeks or even month deadline, whereby the end of the deadline you will reconvene and discuss - it’s that simple! If you’re expanding and taking your book club online, we suggest doing the same, just on video call. Perhaps, the grown-ups could even set up a WhatsApp group for all things book club-related!
4) What Sorts Of Things Can I Discuss In My Book Club?
Great question! And the truth is, it’s pretty much up to you but of course we are here to give some pointers. It’s always great to start with some open-ended questions about the book (which parents can prepare beforehand). These might be along the lines of ‘What was your initial reaction to the book? Did it hook you immediately, or take some time to get into?’, ‘What was your favourite quote/passage?’, ‘Which character did you relate to the most, and what was it about them that you connected with?’ or even as simple as debunking the plot, asking questions such as ‘Who were the main characters?’, ‘What happened at the end?’ and ‘What was your favourite bit and why?’. Again, depending on the age of your kid(s), you might choose to focus on specific themes within the book. For example, if you have younger children you might pick up on wider themes such as friendship, adventure or good and evil. Establish at what point did these themes appear and perhaps even try to link them to your personal lives, encouraging a more self-reflective and fun reading. Alternatively, if you have older children you might choose to focus on more serious themes such as injustice, sci-fi/dystopian or thriller inspiring more mature discussions.
5) Why Not Start An Online Platform Too?
Whether it be a blog or a communal GoogleDoc that all members of the kids' book club have access to, creating an online platform is a great way outlet for any book club inspired thoughts. It can be a space to write reviews of past books read in the book club; writing reviews is a great way of formulating thoughts onto the page and help to truly reflect on the book. Plus, by posting them online, it allows other members of the kids' book club to read it and gain further insight into other member’s thoughts and feelings about the book. Or if you have been inspired to do some creative writing of your own, based off one of the books, this platform can be a means of sharing it with others - it’s super simple and accessible!
6) Here Are Some Books To Get You Started!
We recognise that it can be a little tricky knowing where to start when it comes to choosing books to read so here are our top picks of the best children's books by key stage to kick your book club off with a bang!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle)
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt (Michael Rosen)
The Rainbow Fish (Marcus Pfister)
Key Stage 1:
Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak)
Mr Majeika (Humphrey Carpenter)
Oliver Moon and the Potion Commotion (Sue Mongredien)
Key Stage 2:
The Worst Witch (Jill Murphy)
The Twits (Roald Dahl)
The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog (Jeremy Strong)
Ellie is a keen Londoner, thespian and foodie! She's the oldest of three and loves taking her younger siblings, aged nine and fourteen, on adventures to the theatre and food markets, trying new foods and dabbling in the world of musical theatre. Some of her favourite spots include Primrose Hill and the Natural History Museum, not to mention the ever-changing Spitalfields Market.