The Attleboro Public Library in Attleboro, MA has been running a book club for kids in grades 2-4 and their adult since 2011. The goal of the program is to get a discussion started between kids and their peers, as well as with their adults. Group members read the same title (adults too) then meet to discuss it on a Monday evening. The librarian facilitates conversation and makes sure that the adults are part of the discussion as well. It’s important for the children to see that their adult has opinions on the book just like they do. Adults model how to have a discussion and the importance of taking turns.
The program begins with everyone giving a thumbs-up, thumbs-in-the-middle, or thumbs-down, then they go around the table and share one reason why they voted the way they did. The librarian gives a brief author biography and mentions any other books the author has written. The genres of the books vary each month and include humor, fantasy, sci-fi, graphic novels, historical, and realistic, as well as picture books and nonfiction. Book group members can suggest books for upcoming months too, however, another goal of the program is to introduce families to books they may not have normally picked out. At every meeting, a member of the group or the librarian provides a snack to share which sometimes relates to the topic of the book. In December, they have a book share rather than a book discussion where each family reads any book of their choosing and shares it with the group without giving away the ending. They also hold their annual cookie swap at December’s meeting. At the end of each session, the librarian previews next month’s book. Some authors have interesting information and/or activities on their websites relating to the books they discuss so the librarian will mention it to the group or pass out a handout they might like.
When choosing a book, the librarian looks for stories with both male and female characters since the Book Group has both boy and girl participants. The librarian makes sure to choose a balance of lighter, more upbeat books as well as more serious stories. One simple but important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that there are enough copies of the book in the library system so that each family can borrow one, and that there are different formats such as audio books, e-books and print books available.
Special thanks to Krystal Brown, Children’s Librarian, Attleboro Public Library. http://attleborolibrary.org/