As a summer project, we decided to have a book club for our middle girls. We held a children's book club for four years when my older kids were younger, but after we moved (and didn't have room in our trailer for ourselves, much less guests), we never got it going again. Since we were doing it in the summer, we decided to have regular book club, followed by the book's movie. It took me so long to decide which books had good enough movie companions to satisfy my stuffy tastes.
|Anne of Green Gables club meeting. Enjoying a mid-movie scavenger hunt/leg stretch.|
In the end, I decided on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Anne of Green Gables. We invited children ages 8-12 because I've discovered over the years that younger kids have a hard time participating in the book discussion part of the event. (Though, I do make case by case exceptions.)
For the summer, we met from 11a-3p once a month. The first thing we always do is the book discussion. This is a vital part of the event. It is important to me that the children learn to discuss books, think about ideas, and share insights. It takes practice for some children while others need a bit of tempering because they are SO EXCITED about what they've just read. With some books, it is like pulling teeth to come up with 20 minutes worth of discussion, other books (like Anne of Green Gables yesterday), we could have spent and hour and a half talking about just the one story!
|A sampling of the treats at the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory club meeting.|
After we talk about the book, the kids need food. For the summer, since they were here for so long, I fixed them a full lunch. During the school year, it is a much simpler snack. The food is always related to the book, for instance we had cabbage soup like Charlie Bucket, bacon and scones like Bilbo Baggins, tea and toast like Mr. Tumnus and Lucy, and so forth. Whenever possible, I read a quote from the book or remind the kids where that food is found in the story.
Once we've educated and fed the beasts, we play! I always try to have lots of fun, moving activities. I try to change it up so sometimes we do a craft, other times we do an experiment, we go outside and having a running or jumping game and otherwise keep it happy and loud. What we avoid is crossword puzzles, spelling words, or other holding still activities. Those certainly have a place, but not at book club.
During the summer, we then get ourselves to the cool basement to watch a movie. During the school year, we skip that step because we don't have the luxury of all day.
Our first book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which some would consider a "boy's book." When it came time for our August pick, Anne of Green Gables, there was groaning from the boys. I gave them a mighty lecture about not judging a book to be a "boy book" or a "girl book" without giving it a try. One 10 year old boy took me up on my challenge and he gave Anne a chance. His mom later reported that he loved the book and thought Anne and her antics were hilarious.
YES! Converting a generation one kid at a time.
This is one of my favorite aspects of a book club: it invites us to try reading books we may have otherwise not chosen. Who knows but that book becomes a favorite.
My book clubs aren't Pinterest worthy, but the kids don't notice. The best compliment came from one little girl whose mother made her come. "I thought this was going to be boring, but this was like a birthday party!" A birthday party that reinforces reading and the life-changing lessons offered in books.