My dream has come true: my kids are enthusiastic readers.
By choice, they read at least an hour every day and I’m trying to keep up with them because reading is my favorite pastime. When I have the time to invest in a great book, I devour the words and I love to see my boys doing the same.
My sons have always been readers, but their increased enthusiasm comes from some great books we’ve discovered over the past few years – and they love series books! After they have both read the same book, they talk about the characters and plot with each other forever. They like it even more when I’ve read the book and can join in with them!
Another positive impact on my sons’ reading habits has been a book club hosted by our local library. Over the years, the boys have both participated in weekly book clubs based around a popular series of books and they loved that involvement so much! So, when I saw them reading and talking about books this summer, I thought it would be great to have a book club of our own with friends! We haven’t started one yet, but my ten-year-old son and I sat down to plan one based on a new series he just started called Dreamtreaders, a new fiction series for tweens and teens from Christian publisher Tommy Nelson.
Based on his experiences in book club and my thoughts as a mom and former teacher, we came up with these ideas for a summer book club featuring Dreamtreaders. He finished the first book in one week because it was full of action and great storytelling and just couldn’t put it down! These suggestions could be applied to any book club, but if your tween or teen is looking for something new to read, this series would be a great one to give him or her!
Tips For Hosting a Summer Book Club for Kids
Your kids probably know which friends love to read, but encourage them to invite some who may not love reading yet. Reading a book with friends could be just the thing that changes a child’s mind about reading!
Make a schedule
Decide on your schedule before you invite kids to join. Do you want it to be weekly or monthly? Weekly works well because it keeps the momentum going, but allows kids to read at their own pace. Most books for the tween and teenager are between 30 and 50 chapters and the book could be broken down with a set of chapters assigned to each week. For example, Dreamtreaders has 33 chapters. This could be broken down into six to seven chapters per week for five weeks.
This is a summer book club and the point is to highlight the fact that reading is fun and interesting. My boys loved playing games at the library book clubs they attended, so I suggest getting creative with a game for each meeting that goes along with the book in some way. Games can be academic – like themed crossword puzzles to fill out while people arrive – or a Pictionary-type game. Some kids may prefer active games which involve races, tag, or charades based around the book. Crafts are also another option. Know your group and plan some fun accordingly!
Everything is better for kids when food is involved, right? Don’t worry – you don’t have to make themed snacks to be a good host, but provide something to eat and drink and they will all love you forever. Good food also makes everybody feel more comfortable which leads to better discussion.
Discuss a character each week
If the book your club is reading has several interesting characters, assign one character per week to analyze and discuss in depth. Talk about their background, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and so on. I love hearing how different people view the same character and this will get the kids thinking beyond just the plot. My son chose six characters from Dreamtreaders who could be discussed: Archer Keaton, Rigby Thames, Kara Windchill, Bezeal, Nightmare Lord, and Master Gabriel.
Ask questions and let them talk
You may have a group of kids that are naturally chatty and, if you do, congratulations! You might not have to do much work to get them started with discussion. Most kids, however, need some questions to get them to open up. My natural inclination is to ask a question, let others share, and then jump in with all my thoughts. With the kids, I want it to be their club, so let’s be there to ask the questions to start discussion and then let them talk. Listen well and be there to answer questions they might have, but try your best to encourage discussion amongst the kids, not just with you. Which leads me to one of the most important points…
Read the book yourself
My husband and I are very picky about what books our children are allowed to read, so I do lots of research, but I will admit that I don’t read all of their books ahead of time. I would like to do a better job of this, but that is my honest reality right now. Thankfully, I have children who talk about everything in their books, including anything they think might be questionable. Hosting a book club is a completely different story. In order to plan games, ask and answer questions, and be the host, parents should try to read the book ahead of time and along with the kids. Reading it ahead of time gives me the chance to screen it for anything questionable and decide if it is a good “book club book.” Reading along with the kids keeps the content fresh in my mind for questions and discussion.
When in doubt, you can trust the fiction from Christian publishers like Tommy Nelson and Zonderkidz, who have a complete line of books for tweens and teens!
One more bonus idea to go along with Dreamtreaders
Because it is a faith-based series, you could research Bible verses that complement the themes of the book to share in discussion with the kids. Dreamtreaders would lend itself perfectly to sharing the stories of how God used dreams to speak to His people throughout the Bible, as well as conversation about how He speaks to us today.
Just talking about this with my son got us both excited about the possibility of hosting our own summer book club, so we’re starting to make plans based on these tips! It’s not too late to consider doing this with your child and their friends this summer! I know it will be a memorable experience for both parent and child and that’s what summers should be full of – great memories!
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