The Reading Pros is a youth book club (grades 3-6) that meets monthly at the Ellsworth Public Library. Here’s a look at what goes on during our meetings and some tips for starting a book club at your library.
5 tips for starting a youth book club
1. Find the books
I actually re-started the book club at my library, which means I was lucky enough to have a bookcase full of books at my disposal. The books were purchased through a grant from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation. If you don’t have multiple copies of books, don’t let that discourage you from starting a book club. You could obtain books through Interlibrary Loan, write a grant, or ask for donations.
2. Serve snacks
The Reading Pros meet after school, so snacks are definitely essential. I try to serve something that goes with the book, such as Chinese food for The Westing Game,or blue M&Ms for Chasing Vermeer. The snacks are funded by the Friends of the Library and by donations from the community.
3. Use activities to enhance the reading experience
It’s one thing to read and discuss Action Jackson, Jackson Pollock’s biography; it’s quite another to actually throw paint on a canvas (or, in this case, a white sheet) and then hang it up in the library. Book related activities definitely appeal to kinetic learners and they encourage book club members to explore a different aspect of that month’s reading.
4. Make it work with their schedules
The Reading Pros meet the first Friday of the month from 2:00-3:30 p.m. and the consistent schedule has really helped the attendance. The kids are already involved in a variety of after school activities, so we planned book club during a time that wouldn’t compete with extra-curricular programs. Even though we meet the same time every month, these kids are extremely busy, and parents seem to appreciate a reminder email a week before the meeting.
5. Have fun and let go
I want book club to be a place where kids feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and their love of reading with others. I do make an agenda which includes book related activities and discussion questions, but sometimes we don’t get to do everything on my list, and that’s okay. This is their club, and I want to give them as much control as possible. I am not there to grade them on their responses or to make sure they’ve read the book. However, I do serve as a moderator, and I make sure that everyone has a chance to talk.
Thanks to a grant from the Rose and Samuel Rudman Library Trust through the Maine Community Foundation, we have 15 copies of 5 new titles to add to the book club collection. As you can tell, the Reading Pros are quite excited about the books they’ll be discussing this fall. Rock on, young readers!
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