Book clubs are fashionable today. Avid readers meet in coffee shops, book stores, libraries and living rooms. Recently they’ve learned to do online Zoom meetings, but they haven’t stopped reading.
You’ve heard of summer camps with the grandparents. Why not a book club with the grands? Whether you decide to read and meet one on one with a grandchild or gather all of them together, you can be sure the time will be well-spent.
In adult book clubs there is a discussion leader, a meeting place and time, and then the group delves into the meat of the book. Writing style, characters and plot, favorite scenes, and overall satisfaction are discussed. Various genres are explored: historical fiction, mystery, romance and non-fiction titles are selected.
Your book club for the grands can mirror many of these book club characteristics. You can lead the discussion at first until one or more of the children feel ready to follow your lead. A simple one-page form to fill out and follow may be the way to build confidence in leadership and discussion skills. It would be something like a book report with the title and author, a brief synopsis, (This is a story about a little monkey who gets into trouble when he makes a mess in the kitchen) and some questions about the character and plot. Don’t forget to discuss why you liked the book and which parts you liked best.
Some of the benefits of a book group for adults include a sense of belonging with social interaction, being stretched to read books you may never choose to read on your own, and hearing ideas from others that are new and interesting. Book discussions bring out varying opinions and often provide personal openness, laughter and camaraderie.
Kids enjoy all of the above elements of a book discussion. With your guidance and the proper questions they’ll enter into discussions and begin to form their own opinions of what they like and dislike. They’ll benefit from hearing different points of view and will enjoy a wider exposure to various genres of writing. Add a snack and a drink and you’ll have a book party.
You may find that you need to read the book to your younger grandchildren rather than having them read on their own. Do whatever works. Most of us enjoy reading more when we’re reading for a purpose. You can challenge little readers to look for elements of a story: beginning, middle and endings, or focus on the choices the characters make in the book. You could ask them to change the ending or write themselves into the plot for extra fun.
Even shy children gain important communication skills when they share their ideas in a safe setting. No idea is wrong and every opinion is respected. If you know the kind of books your grandchild enjoys, that is a good place to start. You may have a dinosaur book club for a time and then switch to an early chapter book like one of the Magic Treehouse or Boxcar Children books. You can always look online for favorite children’s authors and for the latest offerings in the children’s book market. You may remember a favorite title from your childhood days that still resonates with your grandkids.
Reading and the enjoyment of books is one of the gifts we grandparents can pass on to our grandkids that will benefit them all of their lives. Feel free to design your book club as you like and then get ready to have some summer reading fun.