Facilitating a Book Club
Duration: one session each week over a period of 4 or 6 weeks
Age group: 8 to 12 years
Group size: up to 20 children
Resources: selection of 4 to 5 books, poems, large sheet/board, short activities related to the theme of the chosen stories, writing material and pencils
Over a 4 or 6 week period, children aged 8 to 12 years are introduced to several popular children’s writers, for example, Michael Morpurgo, Roald Dahl, David Almond, David Walliams etc. They are also introduced to children’s poetry by poets such as the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Creative writing is also part of the sessions.
Children are firstly asked to think of a name for their book club. They then design a poster for the club related to the chosen name.
Within the group, the children are asked to name their favourite books and talk about why they enjoy them. Using a board/large sheet, the facilitator creates a list of all the books that the children mention. This list is brought to each session and additions are made to the list each week, as relevant. The children are also given their own copy of this list in week two and are asked to update it as new books are recommended.
During the first session, the children are also introduced to a number of books (4 or 5) identified by the facilitator for discussion. The group talk about the likely differences and similarities between the stories based on the front cover of the book and the blurb at the back. After looking through options and discussing them (see section on choosing the right book), they agree on 3 or 4 books they are going to focus on in their book club.
Week 2 onwards
The structure for the sessions can be planned in different ways, for example:
one book could be looked at over two sessions; one of the sessions could focus on poetry and another on a short story; alternatively, one book could be discussed throughout the entire book club over the 4-6 weeks with each of the sessions divided into two parts – the first part looking at the main book being read and the second part focusing on a short story, poem or other related activity (see other activity idea sections).
At the start of each session, before the group begins reading a book together, the children are asked to look at the book cover and make predictions about what they think the book is going to be about. This activity is useful to further engage the children in the story as they will be looking out to see if there predictions were correct.
Mr Stink by David Walliams
Mr Stink is the story of Chloe Crumb, a little girl who is being bullied in school and makes friends with a homeless man called Mr Stink.
Each week, a couple of chapters are read from the book and children take turns to read aloud to the group.
An activity related to the story is also worked on each week. For example, children are asked to write a poem or an acrostic about Mr Stink. These activities enable the children to further develop their imagination and creative writing skills.
The children are asked to consider themes related to the main character in the story. For example, homelessness in relation to Mr Stink and how/why he became homeless. Once these key themes have been discussed, they are then asked to write a short story on one of these themes. For example: the reason Mr Stink is homeless; why Chloe and Mr Stink became friends.
Art is also incorporated into the workshops. For example, the children are asked to draw a picture of themselves with Mr Stink. A session could also include a poem on a similar theme to the story being read.
Mid-way through the weekly sessions, a newsletter could be produced for parents outlining what the children are doing in the book club.
On the last week of the book club, a display of the children’s work completed over the sessions is arranged in the library. Children are be presented with ‘Book Club’ certificates and parents are invited to attend.
The book club is useful for increasing children’s interest in reading and for developing their confidence, particularly in relation to interacting with others in a group. The retention levels of children for the duration of the book club are also found to be particularly high with the majority of children attending each session.
This type of children’s book club (over 4 to 6 weeks) could run several times during the year.
Sample list of books recommended by children aged 8-12 years for a book club:
- Spy Dog – Andrew Cope
- Horrid Henry – Francesa Simon
- Diary Of A Wimpy Kid – The Last Straw – Jeff Kinney
- A Medal for Leroy – Michael Morpurgo
- War Horse – Michael Morpurgo
- An Elephant In The Garden – Michael Morpurgo
- Kaspar Prince Of Cate – Michael Morpurgo
- The Keeper – Darragh Martin
- Twilight Robbery – Frances Hardinge
- Billionaire Boy – David Walliams
- The Boy In The Dress – David Walliams
- Gangsta Granny – David Walliams
- Rat Burger – David Walliams
- The Demon Dentist – David Walliams
- Mr Stink – David Walliams
- Fantastic Mr Fox – Roald Dahl
- Charlie And The Glass Elevator – Roald Dahl
- The Twits – Roald Dahl
Provided by Wexford Public Library Services, May 2014