Raise Readers By Starting Your Own Book Club

By Daniella Guzman

summer funLike many parents, I’m guilty of turning to digital babysitting when I need a break and the kids want some summer fun. Television or cell phone games become my go-to when I need 15 to 20 minutes of peace and quiet after a long day. I know it might not seem like good parenting, but sometimes when survival mode kicks in, a little help from the television or cell phone is OK.

Digital entertainment is such a temptation that I knew it would be a challenge to get my 5-year-old, Sofia, to sit, read a book and enjoy it as a fun activity. To make reading exciting to her, we started a kids book club. This is a great summer activity for kids of any age or reading level. Who doesn’t want to be a part of a club with their friends?

Here are some suggestions based on our experience. I hope these ideas help you spark a love for reading in your home.

Involve your kids in the process as much as possible. Ask them to choose a book club name. Sofia named hers “Bookworm Book Club.” I suggested creative names but reminded myself it wasn’t my book club, so we went with her choice.

Ask your kids to make a list of friends they’d like to invite. We invite two friends each week.

Pick a day and time that works for your schedule. Plan your book club meetings around that. You could meet in your home or at your local library.

Send out your invitations. Sofia’s book club meets once a week for three hours in the summer and two hours during the school year.

Pick a book or bring your own book. Unlike grown-up book clubs, our club asks each child to pick their own book, either from the library or their book collection. This lets us accommodate different reading levels and different story interests.

Have an itinerary. Once the kids arrive, have them sit in a comfy and quiet area to read their books. Books for children Sofia’s age are usually short. Once they are finished, ask each child to do an oral book report in front of their friends. This encourages reading comprehension and helps them develop public-speaking skills. You could also have them read their books out loud to each other.

Have a discussion. Make a list of questions to ask each child about the books they read. For example: What was your favorite part of the story? Did you ever have an experience like this? Ask anything that starts a fun discussion. This also helps with comprehension.

Provide snacks! When the book club meeting has ended, I always have a snack such as watermelon, popsicles or mini cupcakes for the kids.

At the end of the meeting, the kids can play or have a dance party to celebrate! The idea here is to associate reading with fun.

A kids book club doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s important to make it engaging so they stay interested and develop a lifetime passion for reading. Always try to pick age-appropriate books and teach the children to respect different opinions and comments based on the book discussions. As the kids get older, you can pick different types of books that could lead toward more mature discussions or book clubs. Happy reading!

Daniella Guzman is the anchor on NBC4 Southern California’s “Today in LA” weekday morning newscast, 4:30-7 a.m. A mother of two, Daniella’s column, “On the Record,” brings her views on parenting, fun family activities and her take on work-life balance. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @daniellanbcla.

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