Books Clubs are great fun for everyone!

photo source: peterme (Flickr-Creative Commons)

 

When we think of book clubs it’s usual to think of a group of grown-ups talking about books. But it’s common now to find many children (and their parents) joining or starting book clubs. A book club can be in the home, the neighbourhood, the library (public or school) or in the masjid. 

A book club is a group of people who get together to share their thoughts and impressions about the books they have read. But that’s not all. Books clubs can also incorporate various activities from preparing food/snacks featured in the books, playing games or doing crafts! The options are endless. 

The most important thing to remember is that book clubs are a great way to get kids interested in reading and for those kids who already like to read, it’s an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas about books they like with others as well as to be introduced to other books they might not otherwise read. 

“Besides building a love of reading, book clubs develop an abundance of literacy skills: the ability to use comprehension strategies; to compare and contrast authors, themes, concepts and ideas; the ability to understand how reading can help you learn about the world; and the ability to learn how to be a good writer from reading good writing.” 

~ Debbie Milner (source

Benefits of Book clubs:

  • Fosters a sense of community – working together as a group allows adults and children to share ideas and work together
  • Creates life-long readers – It encourages reading for those who need the incentive; while reinforces the practice in those who love to read
  • Creates confidence – in terms of speaking and articulating ideas and thoughts.
  • Develops attentive listeners
  • Promotes reading as fun and interactive as well through acitivities such as Meet the Author, crafts, field trips, recipes etc.

  

Types of Book Clubs:

Same Age (& Gender) Book Clubs – many books clubs in schools and libraries are groups of children or teenagers who are around the same age and many times of the same gender. In this way there are similar reading levels and similar interest in book choices. 

Parent-Child Book Clubs – these are usually neighbourhood or organisation based books clubs where Mothers and Daughters or Fathers and Sons meet. The children are usually around the same age.A parent-child book club can also take place in the home with father-son or mother-daughter. 

Family Book Clubs – this is when members of a family get together to discuss books. Ages in such a club will vary.   

How to start a Book Club:

Starting a book club is much easier than you think. Here are a few guidelines: 

  • Members – The age and gender of your book club members would depend on what type of club (see above) you decide to start. Members should be close in age and same gender.
  • Size – Keep the club size small.  Between eight and twelve is a good size for a group club. Too many makes it a bit tedious to manage discussions; too few may mean one or two absentees could stall a meeting.
  • Location – Decide where meetings would be held. It may be in the meeting room of the masjid or library or at the homes of members (rotate to take turns).
  • Time – Figure out how often you want to meet. Once a month is good but you can even consider every two months as well. There should be enough time for members to read the book yet not have too much time between meetings so as to cause a loss of interest. Decide on a time (evenings or weekends).
  • Book Choices – Make a list of books based on recommendations of each member. You may want to consider whether you will read fiction and non-fiction and a combination of Islamic and general books. See the list below for links to websites and blogs that have some great reading lists (and stay tuned for a reading list I’m compiling; I’ll be putting it up on the blog soon).
  • Format – Decide on the structure of club meetings. Keep it simple while incorporating a discussion based on the subject matter of the book. Try using some questions to get the conversation going. Always remember to make meetings fun by incorporating an activity (make or bring along a food or craft item from the book), having some time to socialize/play and don’t forget to remember Allah as you gather (you can begin and end with a dua, hadeeth or reading of a verse of the Quran).

  

Extensions to Book-Clubs:

  • Chose a name for your book club – this makes the book club more special especially when everyone have the opportunity of volunteering a name..
  • Play games from word games to acting out parts of the book.
  • Prepare or bring food related to the food mentioned in the book
  • Do crafts that relate to the book in some way.
  • Raise money for charity through used book sales or bake sales.
  • Write letters to authors to let them know what you liked or didn’t like about their books. Let them know what else you would like them to write about.
  • Visit places or have meetings in places that go along with the theme in the book.

  

Reading Lists to inspire your Book Club choices:

Reading Syllabi for Children and Teens (extensive list for ages 5-18 years) http://www.islamicedfoundation.com/syllabi2.htm 

– Islamic Fiction Reading List for Adults and Teens http://islamicfictionbooks.wordpress.com/reading-list/ 

– Rukhsana Khan’s Official Website (Click on “Muslim booklist” on the sidebar)http://www.rukhsanakhan.com/ 

– Family Reads Book list http://familyreads.weebly.com/summer-reading-list.html 

So start or join a book club today. It may be the start of some special times and the creation of life-long readers and learners. 

Are you or your children part of a book club? I would love to hear from you about your experiences. Please leave a comment or email me muslimkidsbooks @ gmail . com (remove the spaces).

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