In an effort to provide more regular programming for the often overlooked older kids, we recently began a tween book club at my library. Our library has teen and adult book clubs that are successful so we were hopeful this too would be well received and so far so good. I love seeing the kids talking excitedly about their love of reading and making new friends and hearing their insightful take on the books.
While they are open and everyone is welcome, in order to ensure kids have access to the book and feel a sense of a commitment, we have the kids sign up in advance and upon doing so receive a free copy of the book for book club. Because we meet monthly, this can get expensive. I'm afraid if we do it less often, the regulars will become forgetful and lose interest in attending. Our Friends of the Library generously support our programming but still we have to buy affordable books and Book Depot fits the bill. They have a pretty good selection for $1-4 a book when you buy in large quantities, 100 books per order. The downside to this is that I have to choose books they offer on their web site, so am limited in that sense, and I end up picking all the books, rather than the kids, as I have to order all the books for the next six months to meet the purchase minimum. However, we have a core group of kids now, so I plan to create a list from the books available and have the kids help me select the next six months of books.
At our book club meetings, we sit in a circle around tables and I provide snacks, if possible themed to whatever book we read (although, red vines by far are the most popular treat). The book club usually begins with a round of introductions or ice breaker activity and I tell a little bit about the author. We discuss the book, I usually have a list of six or so questions, starting with whether or not they liked it and then moving onto specific questions geared to the book. The kids love sharing their favorite parts of the book best. We usually do some sort of activity or craft as we continue to talk and end with me book talking the next book and handing out copies. In each book, I include a small flyer with the next book club's date and time.
Below are some of the books and activities we have done so far...
Sideways Stories from Wayside School
For my very first one, I borrowed some great ideas from Library Noise.
This has been the most popular of the books we have read. The kids loved the fast paced, action packed, survival story of a boy, who loves video games and isn't big on the outdoors, saving his older brother on a kayaking camping trip gone wrong. We had a good discussion about what constitutes a hero talking about the similarities and differences between real life heroes and superheroes. For our activities, we completed one of the two line bad songs Tanner makes up in the story “On Boulder River I saw a bear, ...” and we made origami kayaks.
The Ever Breath
This was my lowest turnout because most of my regulars are not big on fantasy. It's about twins, a brother and sister, who realize they have a special destiny and must venture into a magical world called The Ever Breath to save both that world and the real world. The two kids who actually read the book enjoyed it but I myself, who loves fantasy, found it to be a little overwhelming keeping track of all the different characters and magical creatures. Since the story involves magical snow globes, we made our own snow globes in book club and everyone loved that.
For April, we didn't read a book but instead I asked the kids to pick a poem or write one, in honor of National Poetry Month, and we shared those and discussed poetry. Each kid read their poem aloud, almost all of them picked a Shel Silverstein poem except for one who wrote their own. I photocopied them and then passed out paper, magazines, watercolor paints, colored pencils and die cut images so
they could get creative and decorate a page inspired by their poem.
Next month, we are reading Journal of a Schoolyard Bully. The kids were excited when I presented it because it is a Diary of a Wimpy Kid readalike. I'm hoping for a good turnout and lively discussion.