How to Start a School Book Group

School Book Group
Category: Reading

There are many reasons to run a book group. It's a great way to promote reading in your school or library, encouraging children to discuss, analyse and recommend books in a way that they may never have done before. It's also a great way for teachers and librarians to observe reading habits and encourage further reading.

If you want to set up your own group, here are some tips:

Get the word out there

The best way to recruit readers is to make a song and dance about it, (not literally, but if you are brave enough to perform during a Monday morning assembly? Dance on!). Get chatting and find out who is equally excited to join. If it seems too prescriptive, it won’t work; make people want to be a part of it. Put posters up, send a Chinese whisper, hand out flyers or just simply have a friendly chat about it.

What’s in a name?

A lot. If you have your group members you can come to a consensus of which name you like. It’s fun to choose a name at the beginning of the first meeting. That way, everyone feels like a part of something new and exciting. Starting with empty chairs? If you are hoping to recruit readers, you need to pick something catchy. Which would you choose?

1)    The Reading Group

2)    The Page Turners

3)    The Book Bandits

 It’s not number one, is it?

The place time and practicalities

Discuss with everyone and decide a suitable place and time to meet. Perhaps taking it out of the classroom would make it more relaxed. How about the school library, assembly hall or a near by cafe? Lunch time or after school is often best. It’s also a good idea to decide on the frequency of meetings. Remember the voting deadline for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards is 6 February 2015 so leave enough time to read the books and discuss your voting strategy.

Monthly meetings work best if you want everyone to have read the whole book but if you’re worried about losing momentum, why not arrange it fortnightly? Read certain sections of the book and you can tackle the reading and discussion in bitesize chunks.

Some other things to think about are how long should each session last? Who is in charge of sending out reminders? Some groups find it useful to draw up an agenda but one thing is imperative. Don’t forget the biscuits! *Gasp* The Bourbon Biscuit Book Eaters?!  That's another name you can pinch.

Discussion

You want to have a few more questions than you can answer. That way, you won’t run out of ideas for getting the conversation going.

Why not have everyone bring a question to the meeting or ask each member to highlight a paragraph or theme from the book that they find interesting. If you are meeting fortnightly it might be a good idea to gather everyone’s thoughts on post-it notes and then you could create a discussion wall when you have finished the book.

We’ve created learning resources that you might find useful for discussion topics in relation to the shortlisted books.

Have fun 

Finished one of the books? Throw a themed party or make a bit of a hoohah, it's worth celebrating.

Enter the review competition or create your own book trailer.

How will you collate your votes? Are you setting up an election or a debate team in your group?

If you have already established a Reading Group or if you are inspired to get one going we would love to hear from you. Get in touch, send all all pictures, stories and ideas to miriam.morris@scottishbooktrust.com 

Happy reading!