Setting up a Book Club

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No time to read books in class? Curriculum tight and your students groan when you suggest extra hours?  Have you ever considered setting up a book club in your school? Book clubs are one of the best ways to share and promote a love of books and reading among your students. They can help you gather very different students together and develop discussions you have dreamt about in class. All you need is a good plan and some help from us.

Remember that there isn’t just one way to organise a book club. There are several names you can give to this group too: you can call it a book club, a reading club or a reading circle or whatever else takes your fancy.

The Book Club idea

How can you motivate your students to join a book club? You may think that reading has fallen in popularity, but sales in young adult novels (and their film spin-offs) have never been better. A book club is very different from a classroom reading session. There is no testing or evaluation and it is a place where students come to chill out and share ideas. It should be a fun place to be, so try and find a space where your students will feel comfortable. Allow them to bring cushions, snacks and even music to listen to as you get settled into your group.

How to get to the first book club meeting

It is a good idea to inform other teachers and even involve them in planning the book club as in the future you might want to start cross-curricular projects.

Just get the word out and keep people informed.

We think it is a good idea to keep the idea simple so that you can guarantee success. And do stay patient as  you will need some good planning and a number of sessions before you get your book club off the ground.

You can follow these seven steps.

1 Decide what kind of book club you would like to start. Inform the director of the school and other teachers about your plan. Would you like to have a book club for every grade or every two grades? In language schools you can have book clubs for certain age groups, but then you will need to organise multilevel groups. We think it is easier to define groups at the same age and proficiency level at the beginning.

2 Define your objective

What would you like to achieve with your book club? Would you like your students to read a certain number of books and texts? Would you like your students to write a reading diary? Or do you simply want to instil the love of reading in your students? It can be a good idea to have a notice board where you can leave each other messages, put the names of books your club has read, write the names of the club members. At the end of the term you can prepare a poster with all this information.

3 Do some ‘market’ research

How many students would be interested? What are their levels? Would you like to have a multilevel book club? Will you have enough students to start a book club for different reading levels?

4 Spread the word – Advertise

You have to ‘sell’ the reading club to your students. Remember, it is not a classroom reading session and students should not feel that they have to join. It should promote reading for fun and pleasure. Prepare posters to advertise the reading club and place them all around the school.

5 The reading level

It is important to understand the reading level of the club. Both multilevel and homogeneous groups can work out successfully, but you need to be prepared. You can either decide to advertise only among students who have already reached a certain level of English. Reading within their comfort zone, especially for the first sessions, is key to a successful experience. Knowing the right reading level will let you start building a decent book club library.

6 Time and place

How often will you meet? Where will you meet? When will you meet?

You can meet in a classroom or library, but you might be able to go to a café with your adult students if there are only a few of you. It is a good idea to meet in a classroom or library which has enough space.

When you have at least 4-6 students, you can schedule the first meeting.

7 Materials

Where can you to get books from? Do you already have enough copies and a great variety of graded readers, magazines and English language books?

Would you like the members to read the same title for each session or can they choose independently?

Would you like to focus on specific topics or genres?
When you have done the reading level test, you can order a selection of readers for the first meeting. Check out a graded readers catalogue here.

Schedule the first meeting and have fun!

2 Comments

  1. wonderful idea! lots of nice readings and listening activities for our “digital native” students!!!!

  2. It’s a great idea. I have wondered hundreda of time how to motivate my ESL students to read something apart from the text given in classes.