For many children, peer pressure is a bad thing. If you want to foster a love of reading and provide a fun way to overcome summer learning loss, sign up your children for a book club and let their peers take over. You will be surprised at how motivated they become to keep up with their friends reading appetites.
A book club is a great activity any time of year, but it works particularly well in the summer when schedules are more relaxed. Kids who join book clubs are more likely to show gains in reading and vocabulary skills when school resumes and less likely to suffer from summer boredom.
What’s the right age for a book club?
If your child can read, it’s the right age. Children often do not get a chance to discuss what they are reading after they achieve literary independence from the adults who used to read books to them. While they will often have internal dialogues with characters in the books they read, they benefit from relating reading experiences with age-alike peers. Kids can develop entire worlds that they share with their reading buddies if they have time to discuss the books they are reading.
Read for enjoyment. Book clubs are fun. They bring a lone reader into a larger social circle. Children who prefer to be alone with their books miss out on the opportunity to talk about their thoughts and feelings that are engaged from reading. Children who participate in book clubs receive a powerful message that their thoughts and experiences are important to others. Participation helps to build trust. Be aware, however, that some books are best enjoyed alone. A book club does not need to be the only way children read.
Helpful tips for enhancing reading as a social activity. Book clubs are ‘grown-up’ activities so encourage kids to form opinions about what they read, and express and support these opinions with peers. Given the opportunity, children enjoy discussing almost any shared experience. Here are some ways to help make book clubs even more enjoyable:
- Have the kids bring some food connected to events in the book. This is not only just plain fun, but also helps make the content of what children read more concrete.
- Develop routines for book club meetings – fun, hands-on, activities that you do each time you meet — anything that will get them talking right away.
- Ask the children to address the qualities of literary merit. Let the children present an opinion of the book they read that is more than a simple Facebook “like”.
- Children remember specific events in the book and will surprise you with their ability to open their books and turn to specific pages. Encourage them to play games that make their familiarity with the book come alive.
Book clubs led by college students can be great, because the students are likely to have life experiences that are closer to the lives of the children in the club. College students also tend to have more energy and patience than those of us who are parents.
Watch for upcoming announcements of Stellar Learning Center’s upcoming series of book clubs for children in grades 3 – 12.