Tech & Media
How to Start a Book Club for Small Kids
By Alicia McAuley
Photo © darby/Twenty20
Jan 7, 2019
It happened by accident. While walking home from kindergarten pickup with a friend from class, my son and I decided to swing by the school book fair. As we wandered the aisles, he stopped to marvel at a case full of picture books. His friend selected The Three Little Superpigs by Claire Evans, and it wasn’t long before we were leaving with a copy as well — and the idea for a kid-friendly book club was born.
A book club for small kids isn’t all that different from your typical neighbourhood version (although there is admittedly much less wine). It’s all about getting together to have fun and talk about the books you — or in this case, your kids — love to read. For parents with reluctant readers, this can be particularly beneficial, as sharing the experience with friends may help turn a dreaded activity into a highly anticipated event.
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In addition to encouraging a love of reading, another great benefit of starting a book club for small kids is that you’ll have the chance to read books that you might not have considered before, and discover some wonderful children’s book authors and illustrators along the way. You might even stumble upon a new favourite book for your little one’s collection, or spark an interest in a new subject. For us, books about trucks have taken centre stage for the past few years, so the switch to superhero books has been a welcome change.
All that said, how do you get one one going? Here are five simple tips for starting a book club with the budding bookworms in your life.
A two-person book club can be awesome, but for smaller kids, sharing the fun with friends is all part of the experience. For school-age kids, starting a book club with a few of their closest classmates is just the ticket. Reach out to other parents as you would for a birthday party or after-school playdate and gauge their interest in a monthly get-together with a bookish twist. Once other parents are on board, you can sort out the details of when and where the club will meet, who’ll choose the book each month and so on. Even preschool kids can be part of a book club — membership is open to all ages.
Keep It Simple
There’s no Pinterest pressure here! You don’t need decorations or an elaborate list of activities. Think of your book club meeting as a play date with a plan. Kick things off by reading the story aloud, move on to a simple age-appropriate game or craft and then stop for a snack before sending everyone on their way.
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Try a Theme
Who doesn’t love a good theme? Let your monthly book pick set the tone for activities, food and even location. Summer books like The Honeybee pair perfectly with a picnic-style get-together at a nearby park. Or you could bring a classic fairytale to life with some post-reading dramatic play, complete with costumes. And as for The Three Little Super Pigs, you can’t go wrong with these cool DIY superhero capes and matching masks.
Don’t forget the snacks
No book club meeting would be complete without some yummy snacks. Stick to your plan of keeping it simple, but on theme. Reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish? Put some fish-shaped crackers and cheese on the menu. Reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar? This fruity caterpillar snack is sure to please, or you can slice up some of the fresh fruit mentioned in the book for an easy (and delicious!) tie-in.
Show your local library some love
Don’t have the book of the month on hand? Head to the library! Whether you’re looking for some advice on your club’s next read or switching up the venue for your monthly meeting, your local library is a great resource. Librarians will be able to suggest some lesser-known books that your little readers will love, and your branch may offer child-friendly programming or events that fit nicely with an upcoming book’s theme (think STEM night to go along with a reading of Andrea Beaty’s Rosie Revere, Engineer).
The beauty of a kid-friendly book club is that it can grow right along with your child. Trade board books for comic books, and get kids working on their own storytelling skills with a set of DIY story blocks. Looking for the perfect book to get started? Check out these seven books that parents love to read out loud.
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