Book clubs can take some work getting off the ground. If you're interested in starting a group, first think through the kind of community you'd like to form. Will this be a parent / child group? Will members be both boys and girls? Will they all be in the same grade? Will the book club have a theme of some sort?
Groups of all sorts are doable, though different approaches will be necessary in beginning and maintaining your special club. If you decide to work with all boys, for example, be aware active games might need to be incorporated into your meetings.
You'll need to advertise your club in some way, whether it's through informal conversation with other parents or through flyers distributed at the public library or (with permission!) your child's school. As a teacher I was able to draw from my own students and those in other grades. This gave me an advantage but wasn't a guarantee kids would attend.
Be sure to determine when and where you'll meet and keep this as consistent as possible. If at all possible, print this information and make sure to distribute it not only to the children but to parents, as well. My after-school groups met on Thursdays, the youngest group on the first Thursday of the month, the middle group on the second, and the oldest group on the third.
Be prepared to remind kids of this commitment. More than once. While teaching, I was able to keep the date of our next meeting listed with daily assignments. I'd mention it briefly every day. Did kids forget? Absolutely. Several usually had to call home the day of the meeting to let parents know. When I was no longer teaching, this was more of a challenge. I asked the dates to be listed in the school calendar and newsletter. Teachers posted flyers in their classrooms. Kids still forgot. If you're the only adult involved in your group, be prepared for this. Even responsible kids sometimes flake out. It's just the way things sometimes work.
If you're running a thematic group (fantasy, contemporary young adult, classics, historical fiction), your list will be easier to form. Book selection can be done as a group or on your own. I found, as the only adult in the groups I led, that it was easiest to pick all books beforehand. This way I was able to familiarize myself with titles (or re-familiarize), I could make sure kids had access to books, and I could plan ahead.
My school generously donated money to buy inexpensive paperbacks of the titles I'd selected. Of course, if I had more kids than books, some chose to purchase their own copies or check them out at the library (in situations like this, I'd hold a lottery for the copies I had to share). Planning ahead allowed parents to buy books, request books at the library, and schedule after-school activities with book club in mind.
Next month: Running a book club meeting
I received word that one of last month's links didn't work. Here they are again:
A special note to those of you who have generously been forwarding our newsletter to your entire school - Please use the button at the bottom of this page marked Forward this email to send to your list. If you forward through your email server, you may inadvertently get unsubscribed. It's a quirky feature of Constant Contact. Sorry about any inconvenience.
Another option is to follow us on Twitter in which case the newsletter will come right to the phone.
Caroline Starr Rose spent her childhood in the deserts of Saudi Arabia and New Mexico, camping at the Red Sea in one and eating red chile in the other. She's taught English and social studies to upper elementary and middle-school students in New Mexico, Florida, Virginia, and Louisiana. Back in New
Mexico, Caroline now writes middle-grade novels and picture books full time.
Carolee Dean has made numerous appearances as a guest poet/author at schools, libraries, poetry events, and teacher/library conferences. She holds a bachelor's degree in music therapy and a master's degree in communicative disorders, and she has spent over a decade working in the public schools as a speech-language pathologist. Her first novel, Comfort,was nominated as a Best Book for Young Adults, was named the Best YA Novel of 2002 by the Texas Institute of Letters, and was on the TAYSHAS (Texas Library Association) reading list. She conducts teacher trainings on inspiring reluctant writers including "The Secret Language of Stories" and "Random Acts of Haiku."
To find teacher's guides, writing activities, and information about author visits, go to my website.
Kimberley Griffiths Little is the recipient of the Southwest Book Award, The Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel of 2010, and the author of the highly acclaimed, The Healing Spell and Circle of Secrets, published by Scholastic Press. Look for her books at the Scholastic Book Fairs, as well as two more forthcoming novels in 2012 and 2013. She lives on a dirt road in a small town by the Rio Grande with her husband, a robotics engineer and their three sons. Kimberley is a favorite speaker at schools around the country, presenting "The Creative Diary", a highly successful writing workshop and has been a speaker at many conferences. Please visit her website to download free Teacher's Guides and Book Club Guides.
UPCOMING AUTHOR EVENTS
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Launch Party for Caroline Starr Rose's debut novel, May B.
8810 Holly Ave.
Albuquerque, NM 87122
Sunday, April 29th, 2012
9-5 Preconference Session
Author's Panel at the
International Reading Association Conference
"Rekindling the Reading and Writing Fire"
Join us for this all day session
featuring 11 authors including
all 3 Spellbinders
Kimberley Griffiths Little
Caroline Starr Rose
Tuesday, May 1
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
International Reading Association Conference
"The Secret Language of Stories: Beyond Story Grammar"