How to Start a Children's Book Club for Tweens

A book club will allow your tween to enjoy books with his friends

A tween book club will get your child interested in reading for a lifetime.
A tween book club is an easy way to make reading fun and enriching. Photo: Julia Freeman-Woolpert,

If your tween is interested in books, or if you'd like to help him discover the wonderful world of literature, a children's book club could be just the thing to make it fun and interesting. Tween and teen book clubs are popping up in libraries, recreation centers, and neighborhoods across the country. A children's book club is also a great way for your child to make friends and socialize outside of school.

If your tween is interested in starting a club of his own, these tips can help get him started.

Book Club 101: It's All About the Details

The first step to organizing a children's book club is to nail down the details. You don't want the club to be too small or too large, so limit the number of participants to about 12 or so. Once you have a dozen interested tweens, you'll have to decide how often the group will meet and where. Monthly meetings are frequent enough to keep the children involved, and it gives them plenty of time to read the book selected. In the summer, meetings could be bi-monthly, depending on the participants and their schedules.

Selecting a meeting place for the children's book club may be a challenge. You probably don't want your home to be the exclusive meeting spot, so think about asking other parents if they're willing to host a meeting. Other meeting locations could be the local library, a local recreation center, a nearby church, or your child's school.

The meetings themselves should be organized by the tweens, but you might want to recommend that the meetings last about an hour and a half. Give the tweens about 30 minutes to discuss the book, 30 minutes to eat and enjoy each other's company, and 30 minutes to go over any book club business, such as selecting next month's selection.

Give Tweens Control

When it comes to running a great children's book club, the secret to success is giving the tweens the opportunity to make it their own. It's important that the tweens organize and run their book club their way, and that means giving them control over the meetingĀ and choosing the books. Parents can offer up suggestions, but allow the tweens to take control.

Bring in the Food

It just wouldn't be any fun without food. Make sure any meetings include a snack and drink, and make the most of it by serving food that relates to the book in some way. For example, if the book club is reading a Harry Potter selection, you can serve food typical of Great Britain, such as scones and tea, or Yorkshire Pudding. Ron and Harry roasted marshmallows in one of the books, so book club participants can have a marshmallow roast of their own. Or make up your own recipes for some of the food mentioned in the book such as Mrs. Weasley's stew and Pumpkin Pasties.

In the book Inkheart, the main characters like strawberries and chocolate, so readers can feast on them while discussing the story.

The book club can decide if they expect the host to provide all the food and beverages, or if each member will bring a book-related snack to the meeting.

Find an Interesting Location

Keeping the tweens interested in the children's book club and in reading may be easier than you think. On way to accomplish that is to find a variety of interesting locations to host the meeting. For example, one month you might consider holding the meeting at a location that goes with the book's theme. For example, many scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia series take place outside and in the woods, so holding a meeting at a local park might be fun.

Make it Fun

There are numerous ways tweens can discuss their book selections, all while having fun. For instance, they could:

  • Come to the meeting dressed as their favorite book character.
  • Write an alternative ending to the book to share with other members.
  • Make a craft related to the book. For instance, book club members could construct their own wands when discussing Harry Potter.
  • Act out their favorite book scenes with one another.

Ask Interesting Questions

Tweens may run out of comments and questions to ask concerning the book, but a list of preprinted questions could perk up the discussion. Have your tween type a list of fun questions for each member to answer and explain to the group. For example, you could ask:

  • The one character I would want to date is _____.
  • The character I wouldn't want to share a locker with is ___________.
  • If I could change one scene in the book it would be ___________.
  • If I could be a character from the book it would be _____________.
  • The one character I would want on my soccer team would be ____________.

Bring in a Guest Speaker

Another way to bring interest to the children's book club is to invite an occasional guest speaker. The guest speaker should either have a great deal of knowledge about the book, or about something related to the story. In the book Skies Over Sweetwater, a young girl in 1944 dreams of becoming a pilot. For this selection, you could bring in a veteran or a pilot to talk with the children about what it would take to become a pilot during the war, and how far women have come in the military since then.

Watch a Movie

If the book selection has been made into a movie, it could be interesting for the tweens to read the book, then watch the film version. That will give them the information they need to discuss differences, and why they might exist.

Ask for Extra Credit

In this day in age, when tweens go from one activity to another, teachers appreciate any effort children make to read. If your child decides to regularly participate in a children's book club, be sure he asks his teachers if he can earn extra credit. Many teachers are willing to reward children for taking the time to read and enjoy good literature.

Continue Reading