Start your own reading club! This is something we started one summer when my kids were early grade school to go along with our soccer club. Reading Club mainly consisted of breaking up into small groups so children could share what book they were reading. We found this MUCH more effective than requiring children to read a specific book. They loved the “show and tell” nature of the groups. I prepared a few questions for group leaders to ask the children to generate discussion and to help children begin learning literary analysis. Occasionally, we would add a theme to our club. Here are some of the things we did.
When You Begin
When your club first meets, talk about what the book club rules are. You might include coming prepared, being respectful, listening when others are talking, having fun, etc. Ours were simple:
- SPEAK UP! Group discussion is like a conversation; everyone takes part in it. The discussion is your chance to say what you think.
- LISTEN thoughtfully to others! Try to understand the other person’s point of view. Remember, there are several points of view possible on every question.
- BE BRIEF! Make your point in as a few words as possible. Be ready to let someone else speak. A good discussion keeps everyone in the conversation.
- Think about making a logo and/or bookmarks for your club.
- Think about issuing certificates of participation.
Reading Club Questions
Always have students share their name (unless everyone knows each other), the name of their book, and the names of any authors and illustrators.
To avoid overanalyzing the books, choose just one or two questions to ask each time you meet. Be sure to discuss what words like “setting” or “plot” mean.
- Why did you choose the book you brought?
- What did you like about the cover? What did you think was going to happen in the book?
- Where and when does the story take place? How did the setting affect the story?
- How does the author make the setting important?
- Who is the main character? What problem(s) was he or she facing?
- Who were the other characters? How were they connected to the main character?
- Did the characters have to make any choices? Why did characters make the choices they did? What did you think of those choices? How would you have chosen?
- How did you feel when the character did or said….How do you think the character felt when she did or said…?
- Who was your favorite character? Why?
- Were there any characters you didn’t like? Why didn’t you like them?
- Who in the book did you most relate to? Why?
- How does point of view shape the book? How would another character tell the story?
- Pictures can be created by words. Read a sentence or short paragraph where the author gave you a picture of what was happening in the book.
- How did the story make you feel?
- What new words did you learn when you were reading?
- Did you learn anything new?
- If you were in a movie version of the book, what part would you want to play? Why?
- Did you like how the book ended? If not, how would you have ended the book?
- If questions…e.g. If the characters had done insert an action or event instead, how would the story have changed?
- Did you like the book (thumbs up, thumbs down)? Why?
- Would you recommend this book to the group? Why?
- What stood out about this author’s writing style?
- If you could talk to the author, what would you ask him or her?
- Have you read any other books from this author?
- What will happen to the characters after the story?
- What did you think of the ending? What would you change?
Theme: Reading Across America
Our goal, within the group, is to read a book that represents each of the 50 states. Each child will select, ideally, a minimum of eight books (one per week). During reading club time we will talk about the books we’ve read, learn some geography, and do some other fun activities. Download this pdf for suggested books by state: Books by State
Activity: Read State Tall Tales such as “Coyote and the Colombia” (Washington), “Paul Bunyan’s Kitchen” (Oregon), “Potatoes” (Idaho), and “Sinks” (Nevada) which were retold by S. E. Schlosser. http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/tall-tales/
Activity: Geographic Regions. Each week we focused on a different geographic area of the United States. Children were encouraged but not required to find a book related to that region.
The United States is divided into five regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and the West. The regions of the United States are grouped by history, traditions, economy, climate, and geography. Each region is different from one another.
New England — Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Middle Atlantic — Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
South — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Midwest — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Southwest — Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
West — Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
Sizing Up the States
Largest: Alaska, 570,374 square miles
Smallest: Rhode Island, 1,045 square miles
Most populous: California, 32,268,301 residents (1997)
Least populous: Wyoming, 479,743 residents (1997)
Activity: Virtual Field Trip. Choose a state to visit.
- Request travel brochures from the state tourism office.
- Bring related non-fiction books, magazines, or other media.
- Find and print pictures from the Internet or books or find a website that offers a virtual field trip of the state.
- Bring the materials you have to the club. Tell them you’re going to take a virtual field trip to the state. Have them work together to plan where you will go and what you will see.
See the Games for Learning page for ideas on studying or reviewing concepts.
- Study state capitals, flags, or symbols.
- Study state foods. Kids always love food!!
- Study geographic landmarks.
- Study historical events.