Getting children talking about books is a sure way to encourage an enthusiasm for reading. A reading group is also a great way to promote the use of your library’s stock of e-readers
A reading group:
- increases children’s enjoyment of books
- encourages children to read more widely and experience reading in new ways
- raises their self esteem as they learn to express themselves more confidently
- develops their skills as readers and writers.
- offers an opportunity to engage with reading outside of formal learning
Setting up a Children’s Reading Group
There isn’t a right or wrong way to establish a reading group. It just has to be enjoyable for the children, so involve them in the planning to make sure that the group that you establish is relevant and appealing
- Think about why you’re setting up the group – this will help you decide what age and/or ability children to aim it at, what books to read and how to plan the sessions.
- Whoever you decide to target – reluctant readers/ keen readers – it is important that the children are of a similar reading ability or they will become frustrated.
- Identify potential barriers: there will always be things that crop up which will threaten the smooth running of the group (e.g. meetings, sports events, trips). It is important to brainstorm these at the outset and have strategies in place to be flexible around them.
- Time – it is often easier to decide on a fixed length of time for the group, to allow for ease of organisation and future flexibility e.g. a term/a year
- Decide when and where – once a week at a regular time works well.
- Agree a choice of books – whether to read the same book, themed books, books by the same author or a personal choice. Shadowing a book award will supply you with a wide range of resources. Whatever you decide the children must be able to read the books independently and they need to be attractive and engaging
- Decide whether supplementary activities such as quizzes and crafts would be needed. Will any special activities be included e.g. DVD showing to compare book with film
- Format of the session: you could spend some time reading around the book (e.g. interviews with the author from the web; recent reviews; other books by the same author). If the children are not taking the books away with them, a significant part of the session will be taken up by the children reading. This will probably take one of two forms: you reading to them while they follow in their own book (particularly good when getting into a book) or the children reading on their own. At this point if the space allows it is great to be able to let them make themselves comfortable: sitting, lying, in their own space. If the children are taking the books away with them, you need to consider whether you will ask children to read set amounts before meeting again. It is much harder to manage if they are all at different stages of the book.
- Decide what refreshments would be appreciated and appropriate (fizzy drinks can cause excitement in some pupils!)
Trigger questions for discussion:
- How do you feel about the book? Does it grip you? Do you want to read it to the end?
- Did the cover make you want to read it?
- Synopsis: What happened? What was the most exciting part? What was the problem? How was it resolved?
- Structure: How was the book structured? What patterns did you notice? Was the pace fast/slow? How was this created? Were there chapters? What was the effect of this?
- Themes and Issues: What themes/issues did the book raise? How were they approached? Did the book/author have a message? Can we learn anything from it?
- Characters: Did you believe in the characters? Which? Why? How were they developed? Did they surprise you at any point? Could you/the children relate to any of them? How did they change/develop as the story unfolded? Which character did you like best/least? Why?
- Style: What particular stylistic devices struck you? (e.g. effective descriptive passages; techniques used to draw the reader in; particularly effective images; sentence structures which are effective e.g. repetition etc). Were there any words/ phrases/ images/ sentences/passages which were particularly effective? Which? Why?
- Links: What other books did this remind you of? Why? Which other books by this author have you read? Recommend? Comparisons?
- Final thoughts?
Useful organisations and websites that offer advice on starting and running a book club:
Barbara Band delivered a session on how to run a book group at the Berkshire Branch of the School Library Association’s Unconference Day in March 2019. You can view it on her blog here
Federation of Children’s Book Groups: supports book groups across the UK, giving children of all ages the chance to meet up and discuss books. They provide free help on setting up reading groups and arrange author visits. Children in Federation book groups also receive free books to read, pre-publication, and judge the prestigious Children’s Book Award
Book Clubs for Children: contains useful advise on, amongst other things, online book clubs, where you can find ideas and information to stimulate your discussions and also purchase titles for your book club at discounted prices
Chatterbooks: reading groups run by The Reading Agency which can take place all over the country in libraries, schools and wherever people want to set them up. Join Chatterbooks for free, sign up for their e-letter, get tips to get started plus lots of lovely stuff from children’s publishers
Reading Groups for Everyone: Whether you are already in a reading group or want to join one or even set one up this website is packed full of useful information. Sign up to discover your next great read, get free books to read and review before anyone else, enter competitions to meet authors and take part in great giveaways
(Last updated by Denise Reed on March 23, 2019)