Summer Reading Book Clubs for Kids
A Note From The Teacher
by Jennifer Cummings, M.Ed.
Summer Reading Book Clubs for Kids
June is here, and with that comes summer reading. More and more often, schools around the country are assigning summer reading requirements to students. Once a staple in high school, summer reading lists are now found in all grade levels, from elementary to high school. While some students bristle at the thought of academics encroaching on their summer vacation, there is a way to make summer reading less painful- for students and parents alike.
Regardless of the assignment, children are more likely to complete their summer reading happily when they are among friends. So, consider hosting a summer reading book club for your child and several of their friends. As a hosting parent, you will be responsible for reading the book too, so that you can be an effective group discussion leader. You don’t need to be a teacher to do this, only have a commitment to be a role model for the other kids. How does it work? Read on!
First, have your child contact a few of their close friends (no more than five for a reasonable number in the group) and ask them to agree to read the same summer reading book. With other parents’ permission, agree to set up a schedule of a few meetings to read and discuss the book assignment.
At the first meeting, all students should have a copy of the book. Together, divide the book up into three or four sections (less for shorter books, or if there is more than one book to read in the summer). Agree to read a specific number of pages before the next meeting. At this first meeting, also try to talk with the other parents involved, to let them know the plan so they can keep their children on track at home; if possible, give all students participating a written copy of the book club’s plan. Then, set up the following meetings in advance; as summer schedules can be hectic, having an established meeting time will help maintain participation.
At the second and subsequent meetings, begin meetings by discussing the part of the book that was read last. It’s important to begin the meeting with completing the assignment as hand; it is natural for all kids to try to put off the work they are there to do. As the leader, it is your role, as the parent, to get everyone together to have a productive discussion. Remember, this is the students’ book club and their required reading, so it’s important to let them answer questions about the story. Some questions to discuss are:
- What happened in this part of the book?
- What characters were involved?
- Who do you think were the most interesting characters in this section of the book?
- What do you think will happen next in the book?
- Who was your favorite character right now? Why?
- Has anything like this ever happened to you? When?
- Do you think the author did a good job of writing this part of the book? What would you do differently as an author?
Try to ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer, to encourage students to talk about the story. The more they talk about what they have read, the more they will understand the story.
In the meeting, try to have discussions last for no more than 45 minutes to one hour. (Unless all of the students are really into the discussion! Then allow it to continue as long as you can!) Make sure all students are able to participate in the discussion, and that everyone’s opinions are respected. The students should feel free to discuss their honest thoughts. As a leader, you should be open to hearing some difficult opinions, especially if hosting a middle or high school group.
After the discussion, remind students what the next assignment is before the next meeting. Then, let the children have some free time together- munchies, outdoor time, or other relaxing activities are great social time for children in the summer, too. While televisions, video games, and music should be shut off during the discussion, afterwards these things can all be great social outlets. By combining the academic and social aspects of the reading group, all of the students are more likely to attend and participate.
By allowing your home to be used as a summer reading club home base, you not only will be sure your child is completing their required assignments, but you will also be able to interact with their friends, encourage their social skills, and make a difference in other students’ lives. Though it can be a significant time commitment, hosting a summer reading book club can make summer reading lots more fun!
Happy reading and happy summer!
"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings.