Keep Kids Reading this Summer: Start a Book Club

I was walking down the hall at a local elementary school where I tutor, and happened to catch the morning announcement. “Today is the 145th day of school.” That means, there are only 35 days left until … yep … SUMMER!

What’s a parent to do? We want the kids to have fun (like we did), but we don’t want them to forget about school completely. After all, we have big plans for (their) college! They need to keep practicing their skills … especially their reading.

One way to keep kids reading this summer is to get them involved in a book club. With a little bit of research, you may discover some local youth book clubs. If they want to join an existing group, your job is done. But many of us don’t feel comfortable being the “new kid,” so let them start their own. If they can read with their friends, they’re more likely to keep up the activity … and if they get to pick the books (and don’t get quizzed about them), you can bet they’ll keep reading. Not sure where to begin? Start with these pointers.

Let them decide on their club’s identity. The best way to get kids interested in reading is to find out what interests the kids. If they like magic, let them start a group where they read books about magic.

Let them pick the books. Summer is the perfect time to let kids read the things THEY like. They have had their fill of the stuff the have to read for school. Now give them space to pick their own stuff. It can be magazines, it can be graphic novels. It DOESN’T have to be a 150-page tome.

Keep it simple. Keep the rules to a minimum … and let the kids set the guidelines. You may or may not have a moderator. They may or may not all read the same thing at the same time. The club may just be a set time where a group of kids get together with their reading material to read and chat. As parents, we might hope they’re reading stuff that has real characters or meaningful stories. But it isn’t about us. It’s about them.

Keep it short.
Even in the summer, kids keep their schedules loaded with activities. The club’s activities need to be planned, but they don’t need to be onerous. Does everyone go to the pool everyday? Get them to “book it” at the pool … or for 30 minute before/after practice. Reading together one or two days a week is a good start.

Make sure everyone is on the same page. Float the idea with your kids and see what they think. If it gets a lukewarm response, that’s Okay. Drop it and come back in a day or two. Start by asking questions and see if it moves up the “cool” scale. If they can think of three or four friends who they want to ‘club’ with, then call or email their parents.

If you are already in a book club, we’d love to hear from you … tell us what has worked for you and what hasn’t.. Our goal is to help kids become lifelong readers. So if you’ve got pointers, we’re happy to share! Just leave a comment.