by TaNisha Webb
Originally published in 2012 Book Club 101 Magazine Summer Edition
Creating book clubs for young readers can provide a positive environment, which can help to support their love of reading. There are many teens that love to read but most times they have no one to really discuss books with, which sometimes can cause them to not read as much as they should. Teens need a variety of ways to interact with others in a social setting outside of their normal routine. Discussing books that teens can relate to not only helps to sharpen their reading and comprehension skills but also creates a support system for teens. Discussing books can also help teens to be more accepting of other people’s opinion and to learn how to communicate more effectively. Creating a teen book club can also help to teach teens how to become more active in their own communities, along with exposing them to different aspects of the literary industry.
One of the greatest benefits for creating a teen book club is that it will create a platform for teens to discuss social issues that impact their daily lives. This is done by choosing appropriate aged books that are relatable. Discussing books in a warm atmosphere can evoke a very honest dialog among teens. It’s important that the book discussion allows them to talk about how the books made them feel and not just about the story. As the teens participate in more meetings they may start to feel comfortable sharing examples from their personal lives, which should be done without judgment from other members. If you are a part of a book club, you've probably already experienced these kinds of conversations and know how book discussions can compel you to share personal experiences.
By creating a teen book club you also have the opportunity to expose them to different genres. Remember, book clubs are about exposing yourself to new books, not just about reading what’s familiar. Teens should be reading fiction and non-fiction books. Start out with genres that you feel will grab their attention first. Once you've established the
TaNisha Webb is a book club consultant and the author of The Ultimate Book Club Experience: How to Create & Maintain a Successful Book Club (released June 2012). She's the president of the award winning KC Girlfriends Book Club located in Kansas City, MO and has over 12 years of book club experience altogether TaNisha Webb is also the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Book Club 101 magazine and founder of Book Club 101 Magazine and Book Club University Online Conference.
Most teens have never had the opportunity to meet an author. Although it’s not possible to have each author personally sit down with your group, you can however use video conferencing or conference calls to have the
majority of authors participate. Connecting young readers to the authors can help to answer questions that they may have about the book and can also give them an insider’s view on how books are written. You may also have potential writers in your bunch, which can also help to encourage them to pursue their passion of writing or anything else they may want to do in life. Teens should also attend book signings and other literary events, if possible, to help encourage them to continue to read.
Helpful Tips for Creating a Youth Community Based Book Club
IDENTIFYING COMMUNITY RESOURCES is essential for recruiting and with providing assistance with securing a facility to hold meetings or to provide books (if needed). Most organizations will be more than willing to help or may have other resources available. Starting a book club in a community center or a library are great places to initiate a book club. Other great resounces for recruiting book club members are
school libraries, local book clubs, book stores, non-profit organizations, Greek organizations and social calendars.
SELECTING APPROPRIATE BOOKS It’s crucial that you choose appropriate book selections for your teen book club. Begin by choosing books that you feel that teens will be able to relate to first. Books that talk about social issues will help peak their interest and keep them reading. Most teens will read books by Young Adult authors as long as it captures their attention. To begin searching for books try to look up books that are written by award winning authors. This will at least ensure that you have quality written books. Once you find a few books that are to your liking, you should be able to go on any online book store website and find some of the award winning books that you research and you should begin to see books that are similar to the book that you originally searched for. This will help you to find books that may be good for your group.
TEEN BOOK CLUB BYLAWS are not too much different than a regular book club. Essentially you want to include all of the following essential information:
• Include a strong mission
• Date, place, and time of monthly meetings
• Include a book order deadline date. This will insure that all members purchase and receive their books on time. You should also choose 3-4 books in advance so that books can be purchased at one time to save on shipping cost.
• Include the book club’s website information where they can find all of the necessary information, along with contact information where they can reach you.
• Include all of the required group activity information
• Code of conduct.
• All book club expenses
INVITE AUTHORS TO THE MEETINGS Do you know that most teens have never met an author before, let alone discussed a book with one? Having authors participate during book club meetings can be made easy by having the author join your book club meeting via video or conference calls. Discussing books with authors can bring an entirely different prospective when reading and discussing a book.
AVOID BUSY SCHOOL SCHEDULES Be sure you’re checking with the school district’s calendar for holidays and tests that are coming up. You may want to either eliminate that meeting altogether or choose an alternative date. Finals and standardized tests can be stressful and should be the focus during that time. In order to be consistent, you can still meet but choose to do a social activity instead of reading a book. Sometimes readers will surprise you and want to read despite what’s going on. Assess to see where your readers are at and then make a decision.
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