Guest Author - Lorel Shea
“The Kid's Book Club Book” is a fantastic resource that includes reading ideas, recipes, activities, and tips for organizing book clubs for children. It was written by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, who also coauthored “The Book Club Cookbook”. If you've thought about starting a book club, but you feel it's too much work or you don't have the time to plan activities, think again. This guide contains all that you need to get started, except the actual books! It's over 400 pages long, and very user friendly.
The book is organized into two parts. Part One is all about logistics. The authors surveyed 500 book club facilitators from all over the country to gather input. Comments from these facilitators are sprinkled liberally throughout the book, and complement the text nicely. The authors first discuss different types of groups. You might want a coed group, or one devoted to boys or girls only. You might want to consider an intergenerational group, with parents as well as kids participating. Perhaps the group will be for a certain grade level only, or for a specific age range. Pros and cons of various types of groups are well covered. Also in chapter one, you will find information on where to meet, how to recruit members, when to schedule meetings (what time of day, and how often to meet), and how to obtain funding. Chapter two is all about choosing books for your group. Some clubs have members vote on selections, while others have assigned books which are hand picked by the adult moderators. Chapter three contains very helpful advice on how to draw kids into conversation and encourage every member to voice their opinions. Finally, Part One wraps up with creative ideas on how to energize your club. Some clubs take field trips, or make foods that tie in with the book or it's setting. There are suggestions that go along with some of the books featured in Part Two.
Part Two is an absolute treasure trove, as it lists the top 50 titles most recommended by book clubs. These are categorized by approximate grade level, though some books may be useful for more than one age bracket.
Two terrific selections for grades 1-5 are Eleanor Estes' classic, “100 Dresses”, and Norton Juster's, “The Phantom Tollbooth”. Each book may be accompanied by input from the author, crafts, recipes, and more. For “100 Dresses”, there is biographical information on the author, a recipe for frosted sugar cookies that may be “dressed”, a dressy stick people craft, design a dress assignment, and a suggestion to collect clothing for needy families.
For grades 4-7, recommendations include Carl Hiaason's “Hoot” and Blue Balliett's “Chasing Vermeer”. Chasing Vermeer's section includes an author scoop, author reading recommendations, a yummy M & M brownie recipe, suggestions for pentominoe play, an art exploration activity, and discussion topics.
The young teen section for grades 6-8 has many challenging books, including “Ender's Game” by Orson Scott Card and “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. For “Ender's Game”, Orson Scott Card discusses his book, there is a slightly peculiar recipe for peanutbutter and jelly, a suggested contemplative activity from the author, laser tag, freeze tag, a scavenger hunt, and more.
The selections for older teens, in grades 9-12, are also outstanding. Examples here are, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon, and To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee.
I think the authors did a terrific job of selecting books. Titles for every grade level include particular favorites of myself or my children, and the mix of old books and new books, “boy” books and “girl” books is very well balanced.