Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Read It and Eat Book Club: the Basics

We started our Read It and Eat book club for grades 2-6 in January of 2012.  The club meets one Monday each month during the school year from 6:00-7:00pm.  Kids bring sack dinners, and the library provides drinks and fresh fruit for dessert.  While everyone eats, we discuss a book that we've read ahead of time, and we spend the last 30-35 minutes doing an activity related to the book.  When I can, I like to choose physical activities and projects that get kids working together with one another. 

Logistical Details:

We ask participants to sign up for this program.  Once they sign up, they're welcome to come to as many meetings as they like (in other words, they don't have to sign up every month), and they can sign up at any point during the year.   We can generally expect 20-25 kids.  We ask for a phone number or email address for each participant at sign-up. 

I create a list of meeting dates and titles for the entire year, and it is distributed in August.  I make sure to include a line on the handout stating that dates are subject to change.  We've only ever had to change one date, and we knew about it several months in advance, so we were able to give families a lot of notice. 

We make reminder calls/emails on the Thursday or Friday before the program.  A simple email list makes the email reminders very quick! 

Sanity Savers:

Choosing projects that can easily be adjusted for slightly larger or smaller groups is key.  I don't want to waste my time (or anyone else's time, for that matter!) tediously prepping materials for a certain number of kids, only to have a different number attend.

Build in time for clean-up!  We usually pause between dinner and the activity, and I make sure that all straw wrappers, napkins, food tidbits, etc. have made it to the garbage can.  These kids are old enough to clean up after themselves, but they're also young enough to forget if we don't devote time to the task. 

The Best Part:

Kids are hilarious.  They seem to really enjoy having a chance to talk about books (and just hang out) outside of school, and I've loved getting to know them through Read It and Eat. 

The Hardest Part:

The wide range of ages makes selecting books a bit of a challenge.  It's tough to come up with something that's accessible to a 2nd grader but interesting to a 6th grader.  I usually shoot for 3rd-4th grade interest level, even though I'm aware that we're losing some older potential participants because of it. 

In a Perfect World:

I would host two Read It and Eat book clubs each month, one for 2nd-4th grade and one for 4th-6th.   

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