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Friday, July 20, 2012

Start a Preschool Book Club

What if we could create a book club experience for our little ones similar to the kinds of book clubs that we adults participate in? Yes, there are plenty of library preschool story hours (and I love them), but I'm talking about a small gathering of friends, meeting in a place like someone's house, each family contributing to the planning, reading, and discussing...

This has been a little dream of mine for a while. I honestly don't see it happening anytime soon for me and my son, but the fall would be the perfect time to launch your local preschool book club if you might be so inspired.

Here's what to do:

1. Invite neighbors, friends, your child's classmates, church buddies... you decide what kind of group you want to form. Use Evites, old fashioned paper invitations, email, word of mouth, Facebook (how fun would a little Facebook group for your book club parents be?). Get the word out and make it easy for people to respond and keep in touch with you about details.

2. Decide where you'll meet. It doesn't need to be formal. A home, the park, church space... Maybe you even rotate locations?

3. Choose a book to begin with and let the group know where they can find it, and when it needs to be read by. This can be any format, genre, or length depending on the ages and interests of the kids in your group. Maybe you want to assign a little activity for parents to do with their child at home, post-story, and then the kids can discuss the book and how the activity went for them. Make sure it's an open-ended activity so there's lots to chat about and there's likely to be variety in how it went for each family.

4. Plan a little discussion. Depending on the ages and attention spans of the kiddos in the group, the amount and type of questions you ask may vary. But just like any good book club, you want to talk about the book! So brainstorm or research some discussion starters.

5. Personalize your book club. What makes a book club different from a library story time is that it's meant to be more intimate and personalized. Choose a theme that interests your kids, let the kids give book talks and bring in some of their favorite reads to share with the group, develop special interests and opinions about various authors and illustrators together, give the kids some ownership and say-so in club plans.

6. Make it fun. Have parents take turns planning an activity and/or game to do with the kids at the club meeting. Scour the internet and Pinterest (and Literacy Launchpad) for ideas; you'll find more than you need! Serve snacks during book club and make them coordinate with your theme or specific book, if possible. Maybe let the kids help make the snack as part of book club. Maybe everybody can bring a snack to share that they feel coordinates with the story for that meeting; this would be a great discussion starter. Plan field trips, bring in special guests, have all kinds of fun!

The possibilities are endless, it makes my head swim. I think this would be something your kids would look forward to every week, or couple weeks, or month... or however often your group decides to meet.

Here are some ideas for a book club meeting for The Very Hungry Caterpillar (just as an example):

Have everyone bring one of the foods the caterpillar ate? (idea and photo from Offbeat Mama) Maybe do a taste testing together and you can make a chart, or discuss which foods are everyone's favorite. 

Get fancy with your storytelling? (idea and photo from A Wednesday Afternoon)

Plan an art project? (idea and photo from SmArt Class)

Learn something? (idea and photo from Busy Bees)

You get the idea, right?

Are you already doing a preschool book club? I would love to hear about it! Have some ideas to add to this list? Put them in the comments!

And here are a few more The Very Hungry Caterpillar ideas from me!

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