Running an Elementary Book Club
Combine reading with fun in order to create lifelong, literary-minded learners who love to read.
By Eliana Osborn
Once you have a book club set up, there are a few essential elements you’ll want to include in each meeting.
- A snack, preferably relating to the book.
- Literary discussion for about twenty minutes.
- A project for about thirty minutes.
Within this framework, you have lots of creativity to get kids talking and thinking about books on a deeper level than you ever thought possible. Students also love to learn about authors, so consider finding out a little background information for them before handing out books for the next reading cycle.
Here are some sample agendas I’ve used this past year.
The Big Wave by Pearl Buck
Grade Level: 2nd or 3rd
Snack: Dried seaweed, for a taste of Japan, and Hot Cheetos like the volcano near the village
- Natural disasters
- How is life in Japan in the story different than your life?
- What kinds of natural happenings are common where you live?
- Are there some things we should be afraid of?
- What kinds of things do we worry about?
- Discuss how a difficult part of childhood is not being able to fix things that cause anxiety.
- How do characters in the book face their fears or live with an uncertain world?
Project: Create a box for worries. Decorate small wedding favor box with stickers, put shiny stones inside. Read picture books about worrying, including Something Might Happen by Helen Lester and Little Rabbit and the Night Mare by Kate and M. Sarah Klise. Talk about worry stones or dolls—hold the object while you think about worrisome issue, then put it inside the box where you don’t have to think about it again until you open the lid next time.
Falcon’s Egg by Luli Gray
Grade Level: 4th — 6th
Snack: jelly beans, looking like the dragon’s eggs that Falcon found
- Family dynamics
There are a number of fun characters in the book, so we made a list and wrote a sentence about each one. An important element of the story is how Falcon’s mother doesn’t really take care of her children. Therefore, Falcon caring for her dragon egg acts more motherly. Talk about each person’s role in a family and what is most important for parents to give children.
Project: How to Draw a Dragon handout. Rewrite the story ending of where dragon flies off to when she is released.
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George
Grade Level: 5th — 6th
Snack: Whole wheat pancakes, dried apples — both staples of Sam’s diet in the woods
Sam lives out in the woods alone. His friends, the animals, provide a perfect opportunity to see how they can be personified. Vivid descriptions of seasons, the elements, and nature itself enable you to talk about setting and how it enhances a story.
Project: Drawing Sam’s tree home and writing a For Sale ad to try to sell it. We also played a Jeopardy-type review game, which the kids always request, to remember important events and funny details from the story.
The most important thing to remember, is that the book club should be fun. Kids who have positive reading experiences will come back for more, growing in confidence with each meeting of the club.
Lesson Planet Resources:
Enable young readers to better understand the culture portrayed in The Big Wave. Learn words in a new language and practice map skills.
Falcon spends much of Falcon’s Egg waiting for her mysterious egg to hatch, so learning about the real life process is a great correlation. Integrate science with literacy skills to build strong connections for different types of learners.
Let the author herself teach your class about her background and writing process for My Side of the Mountain. The importance of journaling is emphasized as well.