How to Start a Family Book Club

Discover how a starting a family book club, with relatives near or far, can encourage reading together and connecting over great books.

By Jodie Rodriguez
Dec 07, 2017



How to Start a Family Book Club

Dec 07, 2017

Have you ever participated in a book club with friends? Perhaps your kids have joined a book club at school or at the library. In a book club, everyone reads the same book and then discusses it with the other members. It's a great way to connect with others in a group setting, over the content you read individually. This season, you can try making a special book club for your kids by creating this experience for within your own family.

Things to keep in mind: Your family book club should be flexible and adaptable in order to meet the needs of your own unique family. And, you can easily accommodate multiple ages and incorporate family members near or far. Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Read Together or Independently

As a family, you can decide if the book selection is going to be read aloud together or read independently by each individual family member. Older siblings or adults can read to early readers or reluctant readers.Sometimes, it's even fun to read aloud to the older kids! Studies suggest that continuing to read aloud to your child as he or she gets older is beneficial towards their literacy, according to the Kids & Family Reading Report, 6th Edition.

2. Choose Picture Books or Chapter Books

Personally, I like to alternate picture books with lengthier chapter books. Many picture books provide intriguing and rich conversation-starters. Patricia Polacco's picture books are a great example of meaty picture books. Try Pink and Say or Tucky Jo and Little Heart with your kids.

You could even pair a chapter book for your older kids with a similar picture book title for younger children. This will allow you to have children of various ages participate in the singular family book club, while also encouraging the older kids to be reading role models for younger ones.

To start, Wonder and We're All Wonders by R.J. Palacio or The One and Only Ivan and Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate are good chapter book and picture book pairings for multiple ages.

3. Make Time to Read and Discuss

The beauty of a family book club is that you set the schedule that works for your family. You might choose to have one book club a month or maybe you prefer a seasonal book club. Decide together and try to stick to it.

When it's time to have your book talk, make it special. You can have everyone sit around the dinner table with a big bowl of buttered popcorn or go to a local coffee shop and sip hot chocolate while you share your takeaways from the book(s).

4. Include Extended Family

The power of technology enables us to share our family book club with extended family members. Perhaps you have a relative who is deployed, or an elderly grandparent who is housebound, or an aunt or uncle living in another part of the country. They can participate by reading along and joining the discussion by phone or video conferencing.

5. Find Books to Read

Here are a few family book club topics and tips to try with your family:

  • Winter holiday titles that focus on helping others are a great subject. Try The Vanderbeekers of 141st  Street by Karina Yan Glaser or The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson.
  • Find books that showcase your family's origin or culture. Or perhaps you would enjoy spending a whole year reading books about different countries and learning about people around the world.
  • There are many books about athletes who have demonstrated hard work and persistence. If you're a sports-fan family, select a favorite sport of each family member and read about the athletes who excel in that area.
  • If you are planning an upcoming family vacation, try to find a book set in your destination city or country. Taking a trip to Disney World? Read The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss or Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Pick a book you think your family will enjoy and commit to trying a family book club next month. Chances are you will be creating a new family reading ritual with your loved ones.

MORE: Stories to Share: Family Read-Alouds

Connect with Jodie Rodriguez at Growing Book by Book.

Featured Photo Credit: © Johnny Greig /iStockphoto

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