Book clubs are a great way to get kids reading. When I was a new teacher, I initiated a book club for my fellow teachers.
Every four to six weeks I looked forward to book club. Whether the title was a hit or a flop, there was always plenty of food, animated discussion and anticipation for the next month’s selection.
A few years after my first book club, I switched to a new position and school district.
For a brief period of time, I did not organize or belong to a book club. I found that without a book club I still loved reading, but something was missing.
I reignited the teacher book club a few years ago, and while some of the members have changed, a few of the original teachers and our spouses still read and meet regularly.
For me, book club matters.
When I read a title for book club it is often not a text I would self-select. When I read a book for book club I read differently. I read with the purpose of holding onto my thinking.
I read with intentionality. I am more metacognitive about my reading process, especially in sections of the book I plan to share or discuss.
Some of my thinking might surface in the actual discussion, but depending on the menu, the venue, and the duration of time that has passed between my reading and our book club meeting, much of my thinking about my reading stays in my head, heart, or in highlighted sections of the text itself.
Bottom line: being part of a vibrant book club has made me a better reader.
This realization inspired me to make book clubs a regular, organic and dynamic part of my reading workshop classroom. I have seen a similar shift with students. Book clubs are making my seventh graders better readers, too.
They attend to their book club text with more motivation, depth and stamina than they do with other independent reading selections.
They look forward to discussion days and bring insightful observations and compelling questions to the table.
They leave discussions with new and shared understandings and thinking that is co-created within the club. They read with more passion and perseverance. They hold each other accountable through the shared experience.
From the struggling to the skilled reader, book clubs work. They shift the culture from a classroom of individual readers into a community of readers.