So, you want to start a book club! Cool! But, how do you begin?
I asked my pal and librarian extraordinaire, Deb Marshall, about what goes into making a successful middle-grade book club. She and her Backroom Kids Book Club members came up with some awesome advice to get you started:
Deb’s report on the kids’ thoughts as she went around the table :
SNACKS: since we meet right after school, the kids are hungry and have had NO FOOD since lunch. They really like having a chance to just sit around and chat about ‘whatever’ while they eat. In other words, we start with fifteen minutes or so of eating and chatting.
FIRST GRABS: the book clubbers LOVE getting first dibs on new books that come into the library. It’s like Christmas every Thursday! Some call this “first grabs”. They also like that they get to read Advance Review Copies and do reviews on them.
NEW RELEASES ‘HEADS UP’: they get to find out what new releases are coming out. We decided to make this a weekly feature of our book club.
NEW FRIENDS: You never know who you will meet, but you all have one thing in common: you love to read! They really like that the book club feels like a social event. (Deb: this one surprised me, actually. That is one of the reasons I love book clubs too!)
OPEN REGISTRATION: they like the open registration and that they don’t have to come to every meeting (although they DO come to every one, lol). They like that we don’t have ‘required reading’ right now…we just go around the table and talk about what we are reading and why we like it. It’s like ‘show and tell’ for books!Deb’s thoughts on book clubs:OPEN DOOR POLICY: it’s important to make everyone feel welcome and on equal ground. Book clubs are about a love of books and if you are reading the same book over and over again, that’s okay. I had a girl in a previous club who did just that; in fact she told me she didn’t really like to read. I told her that was okay–she could still come and join in–we’d find her something else she liked. And we did! She became one or our most voracious readers!
START SMALL AND GROW FROM THERE: if you start with small numbers, don’t get discouraged. Just keep going if your time and budget allows. Both book clubs I’ve been a part of started really small. In both cases, 2 kids. We ran all summer with just two kids, then fall arrived and they brought friends and so on–until that club was running with at least 10 kids per week.
Same with the one I have now–we started with two, now we’re up to 12! The key here (I think) was letting the kids know it is a social event. We get together and talk about books, laugh and have fun. Even if you’re not a speed reader, have only read one book in your life but love that book to death—join us!
Wow! Thanks so much to Deb and the Backroom Kids Book Club for all these great tips! I totally want to join your book club now (especially if you have SNACKS! ;-))
In fact, I’ll be joining them via SKYPE in the next little while and can’t wait.
Your turn: Are you part of a middle-grade book club? Are you planning to start one? Please share your tips for success in the comments!
Hélène Boudreau is the author of the upper middle-grade novel, REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS (Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky). She offers FREE 30-minute Q & A sessions via SKYPE with REAL MERMAIDS book clubs. You can visit her at www.heleneboudreau.com