Starting a book club

Starting a book club

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I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, often something good stems from something not so good.

N plays every evening with a bunch of girls. Since it’s a mixed crowd across age groups, they often end up simply ‘hanging’ out much like teenagers : chatting, arguing and sometimes fighting, often ending in tears for at least one of them.

Many times I have tried to make peace but convincing a group of 11- 12 year olds to give up prejudices, however temporary, is hard. After N came home on two consecutive days crying since the girls had ‘boycotted’ her for some reason I decided to do something about it. In no way am I implying she’s always a victim. I am sure there are days she’s at the other end too.

I’ve often shared here, how I’ve been trying to get the kids to take to reading and also that that I’ve had little success.

I’d been toying with the idea of a book club for a long time and I thought it would be a great diversion for the girls. It would give them something constructive to think about and talk about. And so The Book Club was born and inaugurated this Saturday, without any fanfare, I might add!

Here’s the plan

1. The children meet each Saturday for an hour. They get a story to read which they have to finish till the next meeting.
2. Since none of them are into heavy reading, it shall be short stories first. If the story is too long it’ll be broken up into parts. Or we’ll take up excerpts.
3. When we meet the following Saturday we’ll talk about the book.
– one of the kids will do a short recap.
– we’ll pick some tricky words to talk about.
– pick some characters to discuss – their favourite ones, what they liked or didn’t like
– we’ll discuss alternative endings or anything else that takes our fancy
4. And – this one’s purely to keep the kids hooked – we’ll do an activity based on the book. It could be drawing a scene from the book, or acting out a sequence, or dressing up like the characters.
5. Oh and one last thing to keep the kids coming – there’ll be some snacks too!!

We’ll have a few rules

… For what’s a club without rules?
1. Read the book before you come to the meeting
2. No interruptions. Raise your hand if you do have to interrupt.
3. Listen to each speaker
4. Address the group not individuals.
5. Be polite
6. Any problem? Suggestions. Do discuss. 
(I find the stories too long, too short, too simple, too tough. 
I have exams I will not be able to read the story.)
7. If you cannot come to a meeting let us know in advance.

So this Saturday we had our first meeting

Since it was the first class and the kids hadn’t been given a story I asked them to draw a scene from their favourite story and let the others guess what it was. We had a Mermaid, a Rapunzel, a Cinderella, A Red Riding Hood, an Alice in Wonderland and even a Supandi.
Then I gave them the story for the next week. A simple one called ‘The Dragon Rock’ (I have to keep H enthused also, you see). Since we had time I got each of the kids to read a paragraph from the story. They had so much fun that we might make book reading a regular feature.
I am keeping it an open exercise as of now because I don’t know what the kids will like. I don’t even know if they’ll keep coming but I sure as hell am going to try.


On next week’s agenda a craft activity : Making a dragon
and a brand new story.

Now here’s where I need your help… 

This is a first for me and I’m pretty much on my own so I’m hoping you guys can be my sounding board. 
1. If you have any tips about book clubs do let me know.

2. If you can think of book related activities drop me a line.

3. If you know of any short stories that would appeal to the age group of 6-12 ping me please, specially ones from other cultures – Chinese folk tales or Russian stories. I’m leaving out Panchatantra and other Indian stories since the kids might have read them and the novelty factor is essential to keep them hooked. Links would be hugely appreciated since I can print out the stories.
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33 Replies to “Starting a book club”

  1. Hey OM! i dont see my earlier comment… went to spam by any chance? Had used my google account..
    Anyway.. great to see that a lot has been happeneing since I came here last. Awesome idea and looks like things are going great on that front 🙂 How I wish Ammu n Adi could also join you!!

  2. What a FABulous idea! I have been wanting to start a book club here too… it is just so difficult to get Moms excited about something as boring as reading books lol! Well lets hope I find like minded people here 🙂

  3. This sounds like a great idea!! I wish I could join ;). Maybe a few weeks before a major festival, you could make the kids read a major scene in a story related to the festival, and maybe put on a little show for everyone during the festival celebrations. Obviously, this is a little advanced, maybe you could do it once the book club is well established :).

  4. A FABULOUS idea, Tulika! I liked the thought of alternate endings…. that will really make the kids think and who knows you'll have an author thanking you for this initiative, in the years to come! Good luck for this book club and looking forward to know the progress as weeks go by! Cheers 🙂

  5. I think this is a fabulous idea! Way to go. I love the concept of a book club and I think it is something the kids will enjoy as well. The idea of incorporating games or a quiz is super fun. Good luck and keep it going!

  6. This is such a fab idea, Tulika! Kudos to you for having conceived it and also implementing it. Do post about this activity. You might want to check out the Atta Galatta or Art Tales (Arthi Anand) for ideas and book suggestions? Pratham books are also worth a dekho.

  7. Good for you starting that book club. I admire your efforts so far. I'm sure it will have a bigger impact on the kids than you realize.

    I did some literacy tutoring with slow readers back in 2008 for a while and I found it a real learning experience,more for me than them. It was very challenging and hard but also very rewarding.

    One thing they enjoyed doing was acting out plays so I wrote some for them to act out. They enjoyed that much more than just reading out loud which was too much like their usual school routine. Maybe you could do that or you could do activities associated with the story like making a recipe or craft that has something to do with the story. Or dressing up like the characters.

    All the best with it!

  8. Years from now some children will be grateful for your efforts! What an exciting idea – good luck to you. Look forward to reading the 'reports' and seeing the pictures. I'll keep my eyes peeled for ideas to send you.

    1. You really have a knack of attracting kids I hope we were there….my kids would have enjoyed …….these days its the Encyclopedia on dinosaur s which is the centee of attraction……

    2. Hey anonymous thanks for that compliment. My son has also long been in the dinosaur phase for some time now. I struggled with Diplodocus' and T Rexs for so long. 🙂

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