Good books are meant to be shared. Connect with friends and family near and far by starting your own book club!
Children of all ages enjoy being read to. Whether it’s at bedtime or in the middle of the day, it’s a great way to bond and share stories. Take things one step further by discussing what you’re reading. Ask your child what they think is going to happen next, or if they agree with a character’s decision. Pretend you’re in the characters’ position – how would you act or react? how would your child? You’d be surprised what kids will come up with!
This option is even great with family members who live far away. A grandparent, for example, can read aloud to a grandchild over Skype or Zoom, then share conversation and laughs over a book discussion.
Older kids and teens may prefer this option. Pick up two copies of the same book (or more, if you have more children or family members participating). You and your child(ren) can read the book on your own time, then meet either at the end or periodically while reading to discuss what happened. Encourage them to discuss how the story made them feel. Teens may also enjoy discussing underlying themes or controversial topics that are present. Was the story engaging? Did they connect with the main character? Was the resolution satisfying?
This option is also great for family members – and friends – who don’t live in your household. Increase your book club members by reaching out to cousins or close friends who would enjoy reading and discussing the book, as well. Then meet on Zoom or Google Meets to share thoughts and conversation.
LET CHILDREN LEAD
While reading or discussing a book, encourage your child to start the conversation, ask questions, and really get involved. Having an adult guide the conversation too much can make them feel as if their opinions are “wrong” or “silly.” If your child is reluctant to engage, share how the book made you feel, especially if your feelings are surprising. Young children may prefer to draw pictures about the book, particularly if the book was a chapter book with few pictures. The act of drawing can help them connect with characters and situations. Have them discuss what’s happening in their drawings to get a peek into their thoughts and feelings.
You can also encourage your child to take the lead by having them pick the book you read. Even if they pick a very short picture book, respect their choice and take it seriously. As they feel more confident, their choices will reflect this. You can also try alternating books, during which you pick a book, and then rotate among your children who picks the next book. This helps ensure everyone’s opinions are considered.
The most important step is to have fun! Having a book club shouldn’t feel like homework. Keep the discussion lighthearted. Have snacks – themed to the book is even better! If the book warrants it, decorate the discussion space to match the topic or theme. Reading a book about animals? Bring all the stuffed animals you own into the room. Discussing magic? Give each participant a magic wand or fairy wings. Is there a particular item that plays a part in the plot? Set out an item that represents it. If you can’t find something similar, post a picture. Get immersed in the story, act like the characters, and enjoy the process. If the “meeting” ends in giggles, that’s perfectly alright. Sharing books together will bring you closer and help encourage a love of reading. Enjoy!