Book Clubbing! Successful Book Clubs for Young People

Book Clubbing! Successful Book Clubs for Young People

Book Clubbing! Successful Book Clubs for Young People

Book Clubbing! Successful Book Clubs for Young People


Book Clubbing!: Successful Book Clubs for Young People offers practical tips on creating book clubs that involve students of all ages and reading levels- including special education students, second language learners, and reluctant readers- making it easy to have fun, productive, and educational book clubs and other reading events.

The book begins with a discussion of the current research on reading and practical tips from experienced sponsors and participants, followed by suggestions on customizing book clubs to fit the students' needs and how to add "sparkle" to the club with field trips, readers theatre, guest speakers, and mystery games. The book offers a wide variety of reading activities, ensuring a dynamic, lively reading group. Numerous forms, booklists, booktalks, reading lists, and resource websites offer additional help for educators and library staff. Especially unique and valuable is the reading activities chapter that includes reproducible reading games, a readers theatre script, a folktale "rap," and various booktalks and contests.


Why book clubbing? How is a youth book club different from an adult book club? Can book clubs create lifelong readers?

This book is different from most books on book clubs. Instead of focusing on a group-read (a group reading one selected book), I address other successful methods of running a book club. These methods come from my experiences, as well as those of other adult sponsors who lead book clubs that give students reading choices with fun reading activities.

I began sponsoring a book club in 2000 with two Reading teachers, Deborah Beresik and Desiree Rotundo. Our middle school (grades 6–8) was located outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We sponsored young adults, ages 11–14, for 45 minutes weekly during an Activity Period. Our group had about 30 students with a wide variety of reading skills and interests. At first we tried Reader’s Theater—a triumph. Next we resorted to the triedand-true group-read—not so successful. The group’s interest dwindled until we all agreed on another reading activity.

After this experience, choice became a vital ingredient in all the activities we did. Thereafter, each book club morphed into a self-sufficient unit led by the students, and our job was to initiate their democratic wishes: field trips, mystery games, guest speakers, shared booktalks, and storytelling.

Success! Two years later, I had to divide the book club into three groups because of expanding membership, but we came together for our annual field trip. As different and varied as each of the groups became, all members wanted activities to accompany each meeting. That was an aha moment. Could a book club be that flexible?

As I discovered, a flexible book club requires a multitude of reading activities. Preceding this introduction is a Reading Activities Matrix that provides suggested activities for each grade. More specific details are provided in chapter 5. Reading activities usually occur at the end of the meeting. However, a successful book club requires more than just fun reading activities.

Chapter 1, “Just the Facts,” provides research on reading by educators like Harvey Daniels and Stephen Krashen that encourages more choice in reading. Valuable reading research has been studied and analyzed since 1937, and we can apply the successful strategies these studies suggest.

Chapter 2, “Back to Our (Book) Sponsors,” discusses the adult leaders, or what I call sponsors. It helps to know the latest research, but I think the real experts are the sponsors. Generally, sponsors don’t conduct research studies or write articles, and yet their ideas are usually practical and reliable. This chapter gives practical tips and advice from the sponsors based on their practical experiences.

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