When we suddenly started homeschooling in 2000, one of my main concerns was for my daughter to have friends. She had been in a school from age 3 through 5th grade. I knew the transition home might be hard on my social butterfly. For this reason, I decided to start a book club here in our home.
It was wonderfully successful, so now that my younger two daughters are reading age we started book club again. This will be our third year of this particular book club. We average 12-15 girls during the school year (September-May) and 8 girls during the summer. Many of our girls have been with us since our very first meeting.
If you live here in Louisville, KY and want to know what to expect if you come to book club, read on. If you are considering a book club in your community, I hope to give you enough information to get started.
Our book club covers a small range of ages. I usually pick my oldest daughter’s age, plus and minus one year. Then I choose books that fit that age range. We have girls outside that age range (higher and lower) but I tailor the books toward the middle. Girls who cannot read the book are allowed to have their parents or older sibling read it, or they can listen to it on CD or tape. We just really want to encourage a love for literature, and interpersonal skills in a safe environment.
Each month a new book is assigned. The girls are to read the book at home, then prepare a project of their choice. They can:
- illustrate a scene
- dress as a character
- write a poem
- write a book report
- share an alterternate ending
- make a recipe inspired by the book to share
- create a diorama
- dramatize a scene from the book
- any other project agreeable to their parents (that are not too messy)
During book club, we start with practicing everyone’s name. I really want these girls to know one another if they are out someplace, so knowing names is important.
Then, we do a question and answer period. I ask questions from the book and the girls discuss it. Q & A often includes “Mystery Quotes.” For this I go through the book and mark with tabs quotes from the book, and the girls guess who said it and in what context. My book club girls are very good at this.
Next, the girls present their projects. From the very beginning of book club, I have been very strict about only making encouraging comments, to pay attention when other girls are speaking, and to clap for each girl as she finishes. For shy girls, I will help them along by asking questions about their projects.
Next, we do small group time. The girls are broken into groups of 3-4 and they sit in little groups and discuss questions together.
Some examples: If you could be any character who would you want to be? What would be a better ending? What other books did you read this month? What is the first book you remember your mother reading to you?
Then, we discuss the upcoming book, and if anyone brought snacks as their projects, we share those last.
Our current book club meets at one of the public libraries. This works well for homeschool families because moms and other siblings can enjoy the library while their girl participates in book club. Another wonderful perk is our librarians. Each month, they pull all the copies of the books we plan to read and they are waiting for us when we arrive. so each girl can check out a book as she leaves. They also give us an extended check out so that the girls who keep the book the whole month do not have to remember to renew it at three weeks.
If you are considering your own book club, you can find books in a number of ways:
Remember classics from your own childhood. Consider reading through a series (Little House Books, for example). Grab a copy of Honey for a Child’s Heart and browse the selections. Invite the parents to share input. If you are hosting, be careful that you choose good, wholesome literature for the girls. There is a lot of junk reading out there, and it may be fine, but if you have a chance to influence a student’s worldview with what you give them to read, you are resonsible. Avoid controversial books for younger children. In our book club, we want it to be a safe place where the parents are not worried about bad influences.
We have read lots of books, but in addition to our regular months, we have a few special months too. October is MYSTERY month. The girls read a mystery book of their choice. They can choose Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Children, Nate the Great, or others and present about their mystery book. We also have “American Girl” month, when each girl chooses an American Girl book of her choice. We have “Pick Your Own Book” month. We have “Biography” month. These are interspersed throughout the year and allows the girls some freedom.
If you decide to try a book club, let me know how it goes and what you are reading. What are some of your favorite books for girls?
Need to keep notes for your Book Club? make it fun and exciting!