Every mom wants her children to read over the summer, but it is not always easy to motivate them. I decided to head up a Summer Book Club last year for my daughter to keep her reading. We invited 5 of her friends to participate that were all around the same reading level. Each mom/daughter picked a book they wanted to host. We made sure the books had a variety of lengths, genres, and interests. We pieced together sets of books from our own libraries, public library, Barnes and Noble and teacher friends. (I have several sets of classics if anyone local wants to use them). We also gave each girl a small notebook as a reading journal.
Book Club met about every other week depending on the length of the book. We skipped holiday weeks and vacation weeks to maximize attendance. Each mom/daughter hosted a Book Club once at their house for 2 hours. The first hour and half was based on the book they just read. We usually discussed the book, made connections, answered questions, shared homework assignments, and then did extension activities that involved food, science, math, or arts and crafts.
For example, Elle and I hosted Chocolate Fever and we did a chocolate taste test with all different kinds of chocolate (semisweet, bittersweet, white, milk, unsweetened, and dark) and then we charted the results. The girls wrote and shared a short story about what fever they would catch. (Grape Tangy Taffy Fever for me!) And just like the book, we ate “Vanilla Pills” (Mexican Wedding Cookies) to cure our fever. The extension activities are endless and most popular books have several ideas on-line.
The last half hour of Book Club was devoted to generating interest in the next book to read- kind of like a movie preview. The next mom to host would come early and give out the new books. Then the girls looked at the pictures, read chapter titles, and made predictions. Sometimes background was given or difficult vocabulary words were introduced to facilitate comprehension. One mom used a bag full of props to introduce characters and another mom read quotes from the book to pique interest. The girls were also given their “homework” assignment for the next book which ranged from make up your own recipe to design a book jacket for the book. We tried to keep the homework light and fun.
We ended our Summer Book Club with a movie of the last book we read (Because of Winn Dixie). The girls had a fun late night together.
Now my daughter didn’t always want to read the books and I told her she didn’t have to. But my rule was- if you don’t read the book, then you don’t go to book club. Afterall, it is called Book Club, not Hang Out with Friends Club. She ended up reading every book. Summer reading accomplished.