Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Book Club

At our local Christian home education group, I run a book club for the over eight year olds. This is only one part of the group and takes place towards the end of the meeting. Each book club session takes about 20-30 minutes.

There are two main components to the group
  • book recommendations
  • discussion of a book which we are all reading

This has proved to be the most popular part of the group.
The children can recommend books and are always enthusiastic about this time.
 I ask the children to include

  • title
  • author
  • setting
  • genre
  • a brief outline of the plot without spoilers!
The group has only been running since September but last term, we voted on favourite books that had been discussed, at the end of term. The winning book had a living author that we were able to email and from whom, we received a prompt reply. 

Obviously, there may be an issue around a child recommending a book which doesn't fit with another family's standards and for this reason, and to remind people of the recommendations, I email the parents a list of recommendations.

This term, the plan is that the children will try to read another child's recommendation and that we will again vote and write to the author of the winning book.

We read a book per half term related to our continent study. The actual reading takes place outside the group time and discussion happens in the group. So far,  we have read Return of the White Book,  A Single Shard and Jungle Doctor to the Rescue. Next half term is due to be The boy who biked the world.

In this part of the club, we talk about the book in question. This might be an introduction to the book, usually with maps. This first session about a book would involve less discussion than the following sessions. Another recent session involved discussing what makes a good  book both in terms of literary issues and from a Christian point of view. I am hoping to discuss plot structure and draw plot outlines. We have spent time talking about the effectiveness or otherwise of books written in the first person.

In terms of price of books, I try to keep to a limit of £5 per book although that may be achieved by buying a second hand book. Ideally, the books would be obtainable from the library but so far, this hasn't been possible. 

It is important to have preread the book that we are going to discuss. 

I am not fussy about whether the child reads the book themselves/ has it read/listens to an audio version and purposely don't ask the children to read aloud. The idea is not to alienate poorer readers but rather encourage all the children to enjoy some books which are new to them. 

A particularly helpful article about running a book club is this from Playing by the Book. 

I am always looking for book recommendations. Next term is Australasia and Antarctica so books about these continents would be particularly useful. Please let me know about book clubs that you have run or enjoyed. I'm very much an amateur at this!

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  1. Our son has recently enjoyed Escape to Murray River from the Adventures Down Under series by Robert Elmer. He (my son) is 14, but he thought it was more suitable for 9-12 year olds.

  2. When our co-op book club was following a geography theme, for Australasia we read *Call It Courage* by Armstrong Sperry. It's a very short book, but did lead to an interesting discussion on the meaning of true courage.
    Our book club meets for about two hours once a month. On other weeks we have what we call "regular" co-op where this year we are studying a bit of chemistry and Shakespeare. Book clubs are everyone's favorites! We generally discuss the book for about an hour, and then we do some type of activity based on the book. Some titles are easier than others to come up with fun activities! Most of the time we also enjoy some type of food which was mentioned in the book or representative of the particular era or locale.