« Previous | Main | Next »

Starting a children's book club

Sarah Kingsley Sarah Kingsley | 14:08 UK time, Monday, 27 June 2011

There has been a proliferation of book clubs in recent years and I for one, have benefited from reading and discussing books that I wouldn’t normally choose. But it’s not just adults who are getting involved - children are jumping on the book wagon too. Many parents and teachers are helping children to set up and run their own book clubs, with positive results.

Of course, adult book clubs are usually attended by those who love reading. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case with children. They are still at an age where they can be enthused by reading, provided the book club is fun and well organised.

Discussing book @ Pressmaster - Fotolia.com

A good friend of mine noticed that her nine year-old daughter could read well and loved listening to stories but was less keen on reading to herself. So, with support from her daughter’s teacher, she set up a weekly lunch-time book club for eight capable but reluctant readers.

The difference in her daughter’s attitude to reading is remarkable. My friend points to many other benefits too, such as the opportunity to express and listen to different points of view and develop communication and analytical skills.

I am so impressed I’m planning to set up something similar for my daughter and my friend has offered plenty of tips on how to get the best out of a children’s book club. Before the first session, give each child a short welcome letter to explain about the book club. Ask them to think about what stories they enjoy and who is their favourite story book character. This provides a starting point for discussion in the first session. It helps to have the parents on board too – even better if parents can take it in turns to facilitate the club.

It’s also a good idea to provide a drink and a snack and to establish a few simple rules such as not interrupting and taking turns to speak. Here are some other considerations:

  • Decide who will be in the book club: friends, classmates, recommendations from teachers. Eight to twelve children of a similar age and reading ability gives everyone a chance to participate
  • Choose a location, either alternate homes or possibly your child’s school
  • Have an adult facilitator present but allow older children to take control of the organisation and running of the club
  • Decide on the frequency, length and time. For younger children, fortnightly or even weekly may be better if they are reading shorter books. For younger children, 30 minutes a session is enough and up to an hour for older children, either after school or at lunch-time if your child’s school is amenable and parent(s) are able to facilitate.

One of the most important decisions is to choose which books to read. Check out the BBC Blue Peter site for current favourites. With younger children it’s a good idea if the adult facilitator chooses the first few books but older children will probably want to take it in turns to make a recommendation. For less enthusiastic readers, choose a fun, easy book with larger than life characters for the first session to get the children interested.

Older children may have a favourite author and could explain why. If you need further inspiration there are plenty of online book clubs that offer suggestions and discounts. For some recommendations, try visiting the Book Trust website.

It helps to have some questions ready to get the discussion off the ground and gently encourage quieter children to express their opinions. Mostly importantly, let the book club develop into something that the children want and enjoy. It’s not like a lesson; it’s a chance for children to discover the pleasures of reading in a way that suits them.

Sarah Kingsley is a freelance writer and a member of the BBC Parent Panel.


  • Comment number 1.

    Sarah the book club is a marvellous idea. It will not only facilitate peer interaction it will also stimulate their young minds. Reading is very important in life since it is through reading that we gain knowledge and develop analytical skills. The initiative of a book club for these young individuals is truly remarkable since peer education is sometime some of the best means of acquiring knowledge.[Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]It can help in building self esteem and confidence in children who are slow readers and this will further assist them in improving academically. In addition, the inclusion of parents as supervisors of the clubs will serve to further create a bond between the child and parent since the parent will have first hand exposure to the academic life of his/ her child. If these clubs are properly coordinated and monitored a higher literacy rate can be achieved in the British education system.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.