Break out the book marks and put juice boxes on ice, it’s time to host a book club for kids. Scaling down this grown-up favorite to fit your little bookworm and her crew is as simple as choosing a much-loved book and inviting the gang to your place to read, craft and eat. Here’s the scoop on how to host a real page-turner.
photo: Sarah Rasmussen
Plan Like a Pro
A book club for the Littles is a lot like your grown up book club, but with less wine. Planning is key to smooth sailing and these tips should help.
1. Pick the date and the book in advance. Then, stick to it. Last minute changes are par for the course when kiddos are in tow, but rescheduling comes with its own headaches. So even if you’ve got some last minute cancellations, go for it!
2. Start with an anchoring theme. Simple subjects that appeal to your sidekick, like friendship, families or even recycling work well. Then it’s time to put your pinning skills to the test hunting down crafts, snacks and tuneage that tie in with your selection.
3. Assign a leader to keep things humming, so when the little literati try to derail the train (it’s their job to at least try) you can keep chugging ahead.
4. Cull your invite list so that kidlets who are similar in age or reading ability get grouped together. It’s one way to keep everyone on the same page. The Ages and Stages section below will help you plan this part of your gathering like a boss.
photo: Carissa Rogers via Flickr
Find A Good Book
Picking the perfect page-turner for any kiddo, let alone a whole group of them, can be a little overwhelming. Where’s Oprah when you need her? But besides the (surely) overflowing bookshelves in your house, there are resources a plenty to help you find just the right pick for your group. Head to your local public library branch and make a beeline for the children’s librarian. They have the best (and often newest) picks in town, and can help you match books based on age and reading ability. Local indie bookstores are another invaluable resource in this endeavor. And bookstores have the added bonus of multiple copies (usually) on hand, in case you’re picking up books for the whole crew.
photo: Personal Creations via Flickr
Ages and Stages
Crawlers and Toddlers
Think of book club for the under two crew as hosting library story time at your place. Big board books and a common theme, like construction, sleep or shapes, make for big love with this crowd. And keeping kindie tunes queued up and healthy finger foods at the ready is key. Read a story, do a little dance, grab a snack, rinse and repeat. That’s the way this group rolls. Hold your “meeting” time to around 30 minutes to avoid antsy members. And add in simple questions everyone can answer as you’re reading to the group, like “what color is the cow?” or “who can point to the fire truck?” Hook them now and they’ll be hooked for life!
For kidlets who are on the brink of learning to read, book club is a chance to show off their new skills. To make sure they have that chance, choose an easy reader series book (like “I Can Read” or DK Readers) with an engaging subject. It’s okay to have these minis read the book ahead of time, but it’s fun to read it as a group too. Either way, they’ll be able to both ask and answer questions about the story, although they might need a little help. It’s all part of showing off what they know… which is apparently everything at this age. Plan to talk about the book for about 15 minutes before moving on to craft and snack time. They’ll have lots to say!
The Big Kids
Book club for this group is the real deal. Just like mom’s (or dad’s) book club does, these book worms should read the book ahead of time, which means picking longer stories with engaging characters and maybe a plot twist or two! And if you really want to kick it up a notch, ask each little reader to come with a question about the story. They’ll be surprised at the answers they hear when they pose them to the group. When you’re planning for this group, remember that size matters… of the group. We suggest applying the “birthday party rule,” one kid for each year (invite seven friends if your sidekick is seven). But if the more the merrier sounds like your speed, consider asking another parent to stay and help. You’ll be glad that you did. Then get ready to discuss their questions (and a few of your own) for about 30 minutes, before a cute crafty project and snack. Plan for smooth sailing and lots of creative ideas with this group!
Planning to host your own kid’s book club? Let us know how it goes in a comment below.
— Allison Sutcliffe