Tips for Starting a Children’s Reading Group
Books such as Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games have gotten tweens and young adults talking excitedly about reading again! This is the perfect time to get your children involved if they are not involved already. One way to get your children started on reading is to create a children’s reading group. A reading group is more beneficial than just getting your children to read. Reading groups give your children a chance to do fun activities and talk about all kinds of topics with other children. The most beneficial thing of all is that you get to learn more about your children each time you read a book and spend time talking about the issues in the book with them. To help, the following is a list of tips for starting a children’s reading group.
It Must Be a Group for It to Work
When starting your children’s reading group, recruit group members from your children’s friends, classmates, or children in the neighborhood. Ask their parents if they’re interested in a reading group. A good group would be anywhere between 8 and 12. You want to have enough people so that if some members can’t make it to a meeting, you still have enough people for a discussion. You also don’t want too many people or no one will be able to speak (and, of course, some children may then become too shy to talk).
Create a Schedule
Once you have your reading group, you need to create a schedule. Have a specific day and time of the week or month in which to meet. Consider the following: do you want to meet after reading a whole book, in the middle of a book and at the end of a book, or after each chapter? It’s up to you and your children to decide. It may also depend on how young your children are and how much they can read.
Choose a Convenient Meeting Place
There are many places where your children’s reading group can meet. See if your local library has rooms that you can reserve for free, or meet at the café at a bookstore. Another option is to have a different member host each meeting. To make it easier on the host, everyone can bring a little snack, or if the host wants, he/she can make snacks. You can decide who is going to host the next meeting during the current meeting. A different way to decide who hosts is to draw names and then make a schedule which rotates from person to person. Usually, it is a nice gesture to have the host choose the next book.
While your children read, encourage them to ask questions and make comments about characters, plots, and the intentions of authors. Have them write down their thoughts and share them with you before they take them to the reading group meeting. This will teach your children confidence in their own questions and opinions during discussions with groups of people.
Remember that this is your children’s reading group. Although parents will, of course, have opinions, they shouldn’t take over the discussions. Children are the ones who should come up with the questions and answers. Parents are there to guide and assist as needed. To make this easier, you may even choose a child to lead the discussion during the meeting. That way, parents do not end up leading the discussion. Choose this person beforehand so they have time to prepare questions and thoughts.
Activities are wonderful ways to show your children that reading is not always about words on a page. It’s also about having fun and relating things you read to the real world. You can either do a discussion and then an activity or vice versa. Remember not to do anything so large that the children get tired and lose interest. Activities should be fun and light-hearted. For example, groups who read Harry Potter can come to a meeting dressed up as wizards. To make it more fun, you can also give each group member a quiz, grade it, and put a “sorting hat” on each child as you “sort” them into the different houses at Hogwarts. Just make sure that you make a big fuss about each house in case children do not like the houses they are in. If the book you are reading has been made into a movie, you can also have your members watch the movie. Then they can discuss the differences and similarities between the book and the movie. You can always come up with ideas for activities using events in the book. If the characters in the book went on a trip, then organize a short trip for the reading group and have them discuss it afterward.
And always remember to leave time during the meeting to choose the next book. This usually occurs at the end of the meeting.
Starting a children’s reading group can benefit both you and your children. Although the exact personality and goings-on of your children’s reading group will depend on you and your members, if you follow the tips given above, you should be on your way to starting something wonderful with your children.