There can be constraints when it comes to reading in the classroom. Curriculum content needs to be covered, which can sometimes leave limited time to discuss a book thoroughly with your friends or classmates. An extra-curricular book club provides an opportunity to chat on a more personal level. You’ll have a chance to share the message you’ve taken from the story and hear what others have to say.
Step 1: Choose a Book
The main starting point is choosing a book for the first session and then each further session. Why not begin by offering a choice of books and having a vote? This allows everyone to get involved.
If the book club is online you could have a poll to select the book for the first session. For a face-to-face book club, you could raise hands to vote. Or if you’d prefer to make the vote anonymous, each person can write their chosen book on a piece of paper and put it into a hat or jar.
Step 2: Decide on a Meeting Location
For an online book club, set up a group chat/forum where everyone can make comments about the book. This can be an effective way to share ideas before the meeting. Then decide on a date and send round a link for the video call.
If you are meeting in person, choose a quiet spot. It could be in a private garden, home or a café. Just make sure it’s somewhere everyone will feel comfortable. Bring some snacks and try and have a kettle nearby so that you can offer everyone a hot drink. You could make a drinks/snacks rota for the group to share out hosting responsibilities.
Step 3: Find Some Talking Points
• Research the author
Talking about the author is a great starting point. See if you can find an author interview online or some quotes that you can share with the group.
• Discussion Questions
Every Penguin Reader title has discussion questions at the back of book. Take a look and choose a few for your book club to discuss.
• Character Discussion
Take a look at the ‘People in the story’ page of your Penguin Reader. Select a handful of characters to discuss. Or ask the question: which character do you identify with the most?
Step 4: Get the Meeting Started
Ask a couple of people in the group to prepare an informal presentation using the ‘Project Tasks’ section of the book. This is a useful way to get the meeting started, especially if the group is quite quiet. Others will have a chance to listen and warm up a bit before sharing their own ideas.
Step 5: Plan Ahead
At the end of each meeting take a look at the blurb for the next book you plan to read. Ask the group to guess the genre and make predictions about the story. This is a great way to build enthusiasm for the next meeting.
Be realistic about timescales. Leave enough of a gap between meetings so that everyone had time to read the book at a leisurely pace. Remember, this isn’t school work. The most important thing is to enjoy the reading process as well as each other’s company.