Sharing a Love of (Summer) Reading
Reading is always at the top of my list of things to do. Right after reading is talking about the book I am reading with anyone who will listen, hoping they will read it and love it as much as I do. And even if after reading the book they don’t share my sentiments, at least we can still discuss the book. As a librarian, it was such a joy to be able to make book recommendations to our patrons (readers’ advisory, in library lingo) and have those patrons come back to let me know what they thought of the book.
Reading seems like a solitary pursuit, but if a lot of readers get together, lively discussions and friendships are soon to follow. So how do you go about cultivating this community of readers, especially among children? A good place to start is by joining, or establishing, a book club. As summer vacation approaches, consider these book club ideas to keep your children engaged and help prevent the summer slide.
For the youngest “readers” take advantage of story time or the summer reading program at the library. Story time is really just a book club where everyone is sharing the same book experience through the skillful presentation of the children’s librarian. After the program, be sure to talk to the other parents to get their picture book recommendations, trade books and build a parenting community.
As children become independent readers, encourage them to share their favorite books with their friends. When my daughter was in the fourth grade, her class read a book she loved so much (The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo) that as each of her friends turned 10 that year, she insisted on giving them a copy of the book. She gave out so many copies that we were able to host a book discussion with her Girl Scout troop.
One Book, One Community programs are presented annually in many communities and are a great way to get the entire family involved in sharing a reading experience. The goal of these programs is to get everyone in the community to read the same book, at the same time, in order to create a communitywide book club. Some One Book programs offer selections for all ages that center around the same theme, and then offer discussions, lectures, movie screenings or plays that complement that overarching theme.
Starting a book club for kids may sound daunting, but book clubs can be informal and low stress. For example, some clubs all read the same book and then discuss it, and some clubs ask each member to talk about the book they are currently reading so that other members get multiple recommendations at each meeting. It can be as simple as inviting the neighborhood kids over and asking “What are you reading this summer?” Then add crafts and snacks to keep their attention. Food goes a long way in making a children’s book club a success!