Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Sunday Salon - Book Clubs in the School Library - Part 1

Some of the students that were in my Mock Newbery club would like to do a "regular" book club.  I've done a variety of book clubs over the past five years but I've yet to find the perfect formula.  I would like to offer a student-run club that's similar to adult book clubs or, at least, what I imagine adult book clubs to be like since I've never been in one!

The Past
Year 1 - had book clubs during lunch periods with separate ones for boys and girls at the 8th grade level.  I picked and library purchased ALL of the books! I also set the dates and led the discussion. I also ran a staff book club in which I picked recent and/or popular Young Adult titles and we read and discussed what would be appropriate for middle school students.

Year 2 - had genre book clubs; one fantasy and one Young Adult.  Again I picked books only this time we met after school.  Library bought four copies that were kept in special spot for clubbers.  I also priced and purchased books for students.  They had a date they had to get the money to me and I placed one huge order. I had another teacher assist me with the YA club and that really helped!  Adults read the Twilight Series and the Luxe series.

Years 3 and 4 - back to grade level at lunch.  I picked the books and we only met from January - May.  The library purchased the books for 6th and 8th but 7th had too many students so only purchased 1/2 the number of books. All grades read Nation by Pratchett so I have many copies of that title.  My plan was to  use the same books each year but students have a tendency to tell others and they'd already read the books.  Adults did a Mock Newbery from September to January with library supplied books.

Year 5 (present) - I did a Mock Newbery club before school from September  to January where I supplied the book list and purchased 1, 2 or 4 copies of the books.  I also let the public library know so that students could go there and get books.  We met at library before school.  Books were always out or had holds and the more other students heard us talking, they wanted to check out those books too! A few Language Arts teachers did a Mock Printz club with library supplied books.

January - this year the library has a smaller budget due to dwindling Scholastic Book Fair monies.  Since we've done Mock Newbery or Mock Printz clubs, Scholastic hasn't offered us much that we don't have.  Also, LA teachers are avid bookclub users so students have most of the books they want at great prices! Good for them, but gives me less "extra-curricular" class to buy additional copies of titles.

I've had the most success when I've hosted them during lunch (20) or before school (14) for 7th graders and after school for 8th graders(10).  I've had limited success with 6th graders (6) and I like to think it's because they haven't been in a book club before!

I've also had authors donate books (Maureen Johnson, Heather Vogel Frederick, Deborah Heiligman) or their time (Cinda Chima, Fran Cannon Slayton, Stephanie Hale, Jacqueline Kelly, Kathi Appelt) or bookmarks (Rebecca Stead, Christina Diaz Gonzales, Heather Vogel Frederick) which has really helped increase student involvement in the club! (hopefully I'm not forgetting anyone or anything!)

Except for during the summer, we've always met in the school library.  In the summers we've met at Borders, Barnes and Noble, and a local coffee shop that has since gone out of business.

Do you do book clubs?  What's your secret?  Are you in charge or students?  Where do you host them?  Do you have them on the weekends or doing school days?  Who picks the books?

If you have any information whether about adult, student, or teacher book clubs, please share in comments or email me!



  1. I host two book clubs in our school library, both for 5th grade students. A few years back I recieved two grants which allowed me to purchase multiple sets of books. I have a wide variety of multicultural and adventure books and we try to have it student-lead but as they are inexperienced I'm there for guidance. We've read Deborah Ellis, Rick Riordan, Grace Lin, Christopher Paul Curtis-among others. I love it and hope I am providing students with the opportunity to read out of their normal comfort zone. It is always great to hear other ideas like yours.

  2. What great stuff! We're starting reading groups with our pre-K kids (we're a lot of PRE readers!) but I actually thinking about maybe starting a story telling group for two and a half-4 year olds to get them read for the foundation behind the words. FUN stuff. :O)


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