How to Start a Kid-Parent Book Club

As a youth services librarian, a major part of my job is helping kids and teens find that perfect book, as well as giving tips to parents who are itching to get their kids to read more. My favorite kids to help are the ones who claim they don’t really like reading. My youngest child happens to be one of those kids.  

I have two tried-and-true practices that help with so-called reluctant readers. First, let the kid choose their own book. This offers autonomy and lets the kid explore their own interests without judgment. Secondly, read with your child. This allows the opportunity for the grown-up and kid to bond and reinforce reading comprehension by talking about the book. I have practiced both tactics with my own kids for years—but what if I found a more consistent way for us to enjoy books together? 

A few months ago, I asked my 11-year-old son if he would be interested in forming a two-person book club, just for us. He shrugged non-committedly. Apparently, I needed to sweeten the deal. So, we worked together to come up with some guidelines: 

  1. Before starting a new book, I present a pool of 5-6 different books as options, but my son gets to look them over and select which one we read. We each check out a copy to read on our own.  
  2. The book must be new to us both—nothing that either of us has read before. We alternate between reading chapter books and graphic novels.  
  3. We set up a weekly time to meet and discuss the book for about 25 minutes. We decide together how far to read in the book in time for our next meeting, and average 3-4 meetings per book. 
  4. There must be a dessert served at each of our meetings. This point is utterly non-negotiable for both of us. 

Reading Recommendations

Like any other kid, my son is changing and developing new interests constantly. I provide a wild variety of books each time we start a new session, and I am always surprised by what he selects for us to read. Talking about these books has given us a forum to share our experiences with each other in ways we didn’t before. Thus far, we have learned about equal access under Title IX with Hoops, solved a middle school revenge mystery with I Know You’re Lying, talked about changing friendships with Dungeon Club, and laughed over bad puns by an evil dummy Slappy Birthday to You.  

We’re trying to keep our club going this summer before the new rigors of middle school set in. It’s a good opportunity to spend time together, to keep up his reading skills and to enjoy lots of ice cream. We're also adding it to our Summer Adventure journals! The biggest question is...what should we read next? 

Starting a Kid-Parent Book Club

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Check out these reads that older kids and their grown-ups can enjoy together! Read them together and discuss over a bowl of ice cream.

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