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How to Start a Summer Reading Club

Friday, June 23, 2023

Monthly desk calendars at House of Doolittle

Many parents of elementary, middle, and high school students are just as happy as their kids that it is summer break. Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief, applaud accomplishments, and relax and recharge. But one thing that concerns parents while their children are on vacation for the summer is the appearance of brain drain taking hold and erasing some of the knowledge and skills achieved during the last year.   

One effective activity that helps to prevent brain drain is encouraging students to form a summer reading club. Starting a book or reading club can be a fantastic way to encourage reading, foster a love of literature and language, develop critical reading skills, and create a shared social experience with peers. Begin this activity immediately so students have the time to plan the logistics and meeting times. The time is now for parents and students to map out on their monthly desk calendars who will be invited, what materials will be read, and the dates and times to meet. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you get started.     

Determine the Participants. Decide who the members will be in the group- school friends, siblings, and neighborhood kids would be the best start.  

Choose a Suitable Age Range. Consider the reading levels and interests of the students involved. Select books appropriate for the age group, ensuring they offer a mix of challenge and enjoyment.  

Set the Schedule. Determine the duration and frequency of the meetings. Summer book clubs and reading groups typically span a few months, with meetings scheduled weekly or biweekly. Plan ahead using your monthly desk calendar or planner, and try to accommodate vacations, camps, and other activities. Also, be mindful of the ages of the members. Younger kids have very short attention spans, so shorter meetings with more frequency may be the best option. Older kids have a longer attention span and can focus on lengthier or more complex reading material.   

Select the Books or Reading List. Collaboratively choose what will be on the reading agenda for the summer. Encourage participants to suggest titles and vote on final selections. The younger children will need more guidance with this part of the group. Consider a mix of genres and themes to cater to diverse interests.  

Create a Reading List. Students can get creative with this part of the decision-making process. Books that include classic or modern fiction, non-fiction, biographies, fantasy, and science fiction can be chosen. Suggest to members, especially the older students who have more digital skills, that they do not always have to read a book. They may want to include interesting magazine articles or essays that appear in numerous online publications. Many valuable resources are available to students who want to learn about specific topics.  

Define Meeting Logistics. Decide on the format of the meetings. They can take place in person or virtually, depending on the preferences and availability of the participants. Document book club information on monthly desk calendars or daily planners, including the locations, times, and duration of each meeting. 

Establish Reading Goals. If reading longer books, break down the volumes into manageable sections or chapters for discussion at each meeting. Assign reading milestones to ensure everyone completes the required reading before each session.   

Plan Discussion Topics. Prepare discussion questions about settings, themes, and characters. These can be shared with participants beforehand to encourage thoughtful engagement during the meetings.   

Facilitate the Meetings. Designate a meeting leader to guide the discussion during each book club or reading group session. Allow participants to share their thoughts, ask questions, and ponder complex ideas. Encourage everyone to create a welcoming atmosphere for diverse perspectives.   

Incorporate Activities. Enhance the group experience by including supplementary activities related to the books or other reading materials. These can include trivia quizzes, spelling bees, and creative writing exercises.   

Encourage Parental Involvement. Parents can play an essential role in supporting and encouraging their children’s reading. Encourage parents to read the selected books or other reading and actively participate in the discussions.  

Provide Resources. This could particularly benefit older members of the group who will be reading more challenging selections. Include resources like author interviews, book reviews, or related articles to deepen participants’ understanding and engagement with the chosen books or articles.  

Maintain Communication. Recommend that all members maintain a daily planner or a monthly desk calendar to keep all participants informed about upcoming meetings, changes in the schedule, and a list of the selected reading material throughout the duration of the club. Use email, messaging apps, or other digital platforms to facilitate communication and keep desk calendars current.     

Foster a Supportive, Enriching Community. Encourage participants to connect with each other outside of the club, if possible, and read together or socialize. For older students, consider creating an online discussion forum or social media group where members can interact, share book recommendations, and continue conversations.  

Celebrate Achievements. Acknowledge and celebrate the completion of each book, as well as the overall reading journey at the end of the summer. Consider organizing a final event, such as a book-themed party, or visit a local bookstore or library.   

Remember, the primary goal of a summer book club or reading group is to promote the love of reading and create a fun and enriching experience for all participants. When the summer winds down and a new school year approaches, consider extending your group into the fall. Have members and parents check their daily planners to see if there will be times after school or on the weekends to continue reading goals.  

 And when a new teacher asks one of the reading group members what they did on summer break, they can all proudly answer, “We started a reading group!”