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Start a Book Club for the Summer...Or Longer

The summer of 2011 began as a scorcher, with record breaking temperatures from coast to coast. This kind of heat makes it hard for kids home from school, who donít want to spend every waking minute in front of the television, game system or computer. For those whoíd like to start something new, get a little social interaction going and enjoy reading, a book club may be just the thing.

A kidís book club puts kids in charge, even when parents are included as group members. Including parents helps a kidís book club in several ways. First of all, it gives everyone a ride to the meeting spot. Parents are great to have around to voice their thoughts and itís a good way to spend some time together.

So, how do you start a kidís book club? According to Scholastic Press, follow some easy steps.

Make the group. Invite kids from the neighborhood, from school or from your place of worship. While itís great to have kids with the same interests you have, donít forget that variety makes for better discussions and may shed light on something you and your closest friends would never think of on your own. If your group is a nice mix of Ďbrainsí, athletes and Ďartsyí kids, youíll have a better time, and see the book (and the world) through different eyes.

Keep the group number fairly low Ė between eight and twelve (and that includes any parents who join with their kids). If you have too many, itís hard for everyone to get a chance to talk. Too few, youíll be listening to Ďdead airí.

Decide where to meet. Some groups rotate between memberís houses. Others meet at McDonaldís or some other public place. Meeting place will determine whether you think about providing snack, or if you get one there.

Decide how often youíll meet. Once or twice a month is normal. Keeping meetings to once or twice a month gives everyone plenty of time to read the selection without feeling rushed. And if someone shows up to the club and hasnít had time to do the entire reading, donít send them away. Let them share what they learned or thought of what they did read, or let them talk about why they couldnít finish the selection. If can lead to really great discussions, and lets you get to know about someone elseís life.

Decide whether youíll continue to meet during the school year, or if youíre a Ďsummer-onlyí group. Either is fine, and you can always change it if you see the book club is (or isnít) working out. Based on the length of time you expect to be meeting, pick books. Youíll want to choose one book per month for shorter books. If youíre reading longer books, one book might take the whole summer.

Itís okay to provide snack or activities based around the book, but remember: this is a book club, not a craft group or a snack group. Spend at least 30 minutes talking about the book, what you liked and didnít like about the selection specified for that meeting, what you would have done differently, etc. Itís easier if each member knows to come with a topic for discussion or a question to present to the group. Allow everyone a chance to speak. After youíve discussed the book, you can socialize with food and activity, be it a game or craft. Keep it associated with the theme of the book. If youíre reading about a kid on a farm, for example, you might plant seeds or make a terrarium. If youíre reading Harry Potter, try doing some tricks from a magic kit.

Most of all, read and have fun.

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