Daydreaming about a summer book group may be just the thing you need right now. But this book group is delightful for another reason: it’s a book group for children, specifically, youngsters entering grades three through five. For those who may have considered starting a book group for children, but need evidence of how to make it work, the Q&A reveals two essentials: snacks and a good reader.
Years of Operation: One summer
Leader(s): Different children’s librarians at the Watertown Free Public Library in Massachusetts. Kathleen Loglisci writes.
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Tell us a little about your book group.
During the summer reading program of last year, the Watertown Free Public Library hosted a book group called Snack Chat, for children entering grades three to five. Each week, participants discussed a different genre of fiction while snacking in the program room of the children’s department. The librarian asked questions, gave book talks, read from a book, and handed out bookmarks with different annotations for each week’s genre (click here to see the bookmarks). An average of four children, both boys and girls, attended each week, with some repeat attendees. The snacks were definitely an incentive for coming. Sometimes younger children joined the group but they were not able to summarize their reading experiences well enough to provide good conversation.
Snack Chat was a heavily promoted program but it was not as popular as some of our other summer activities. We found that the participants preferred listening to stories being read over talking about books.
Once the school year started, the Watertown Free Public Library changed their book club format to a once-a-month chapter book read aloud for the elementary set. Participants choose the titles and are encouraged to check out copies of the book to finish at home.
When, where, and how often do you meet?
The snack Chat book group met on Mondays at 3:30 p.m. for seven weeks in a row during the summer.
How does your group make its reading selections?
Our reading selection consisted of books that the librarian had read recently because they were new or had received favorable reviews.
Which book did your group collectively like the most this past year?
The story that peaked the most interest among the group was part of the new Lemony Snicket series, All the Wrong Questions. Each time the librarian paused for questions at a chapter break, the group begged to read the next chapter.
Which is the most divisive book your group has read, and why?
Although the librarian attempted to frame each story, the group had trouble understanding Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (2014), because they had not yet learned about the historical context in which it takes place.
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