How to Start a Book Club
Tired of reading the same old story? Spice up your bookshelf by starting a book club today!
A book club is a fun way to get together with friends and check out great books. It can be an awesome way to stir up great conversations, meet new people and explore those amazing books you’ve been meaning to read.
How do I start a group?
Grab a good friend who can help you get started. Then just go for it—ask school friends, sports friends, music friends. Whoever. Call, email or just march right up and talk to people who might be interested. Post a message on your MySpace or Facebook page. Ask away. Put up a poster at school. You might be surprised who wants to join. You’re looking for about 6-10 friends for your group. That way, because of busy schedules, you’ll probably have at least half your group at each meeting.
You may want to consider asking a librarian, a teacher or even a parent for advice in starting up a club. They probably have some ideas that you wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
Should I name my group?
It’s totally up to you. “Reading Group” is a little boring and “Bodacious Book Buddies” might not be the right fit either. Make up a name that really fits who you are. Or a name that’s just a little crazy. Like “The Electric Word Monkeys.” Or something. You get the idea. It’s fun to choose a name at the beginning of the first meeting. That way, everyone feels like a part of something new and exciting. Have everyone bring a few names to the first meeting. Vote for your favorite. Or throw them in a hat and leave it up to chance. Give yourself a 5-minute time limit to choose a name. It’s fun to race the clock and then you won’t spend the whole meeting talking about it.
When do we meet? And for how long?
Once a month is pretty standard. It’s enough time for everyone to read a book, but not so far apart that you forget you’re in a book club. Meetings usually last about an hour and a half. Whatever you decide, pick a day and a time and stick to it. Something like 7pm on the first Tuesday of the month. Keeping a regular meeting time is respectful to everyone’s schedule and is key to the success of your group. Start and end on time, so there are no surprises. Make sure everyone’s parents are cool with the time so they can schedule drop-offs and pick-ups.
Where do we meet?
Many book clubs rotate houses every month. It’s comfy and everyone gets a chance to play host. The host usually sends out the invite (or evites) and makes sure there are plenty of delicious snacks. Don’t forget to run this idea by everyone’s parents first. Most parents are happy to help (or stay out of the way... it’s up to you!). But again, no surprises keeps everyone happy.
You can also meet at a coffee shop or bookstore. Just call the owner first to make sure it’s okay and to see if there will be room for your group. Or it’s fun to meet outside in warm weather. Just have a back up in mind in case it rains.
What are the ground rules?
Okay. Rules are huge. They help everyone know what to expect.
1. PICK A LEADER. Maybe that’s you. Or you can rotate leaders when you rotate houses. The leader makes sure you start and stop on time. They also bring questions to ask and sees that everyone is involved in the conversation.
2. KEEP THE FOCUS ON BOOKS. It’s a book club. Everyone reads the book. If you don’t read the books, what can you talk about? Decide what happens if someone doesn’t read the book. Can they still come? It’s up to you and your group to decide.
3. WHAT ABOUT NEW PEOPLE? Decide if you want to open your group up to new people. Figure out how you invite them. You may also want to decide if people can bring guests. It’s nice to send the group an email or call them a week before the next meeting to say, “Hey, is it cool if I bring Amy?”
4. GET A NOTEBOOK. Get a notebook that’s just for the club. Keep your schedule and book lists in there.
5. GET A SECRETARY TO BE IN CHARGE OF THE NOTEBOOK. Ask someone who’s neat and organized if they can help keep track of the book lists and the hosting schedule.
6 DECIDE HOW TO GET BOOKS. It’s probably easiest to make everybody responsible for buying her/his own books.
What do we read?
Have everyone bring in a list of books they want to read to the first meeting. Keep a running list. Check out reviews online, or cut out book reviews from magazines and newspapers. Ask your local library or bookstore for suggestions.
It’s helpful to choose the first few books during the first meeting so you don’t spend every meeting choosing the next book. When in doubt, go back to your old favorites. They’re favorites for a reason.
How do we get the discussion going?
Ask questions. Questions are a way of sparking the discussion. You want to have a few more questions than you can answer. That way, you won’t run out of ideas for getting the conversation going.
Have everyone bring a question to the meeting. If you’re leading, bring 4-5 questions. It’s also helpful to mark the pages that are important to you with post-its. These will help you remember specific moments in the book.
Do we have to talk about school books?
“No” if you don’t want to and “yes” if you want to. It’s all about you.
Is it okay to do other stuff?
Sure. After the meeting. Otherwise, you’ll never get to the book! Have the meeting first, then do whatever you want to afterwards. But keep it interactive and social. Grab a game. Make pizzas. Or just catch up.
But seriously, what about the snacks?
Snacks are a definite yes! Finger food is yummy and easy. That way nobody’s worried about spilling spaghetti on their socks. And then you can snack during the meeting. Each host can take turns buying or making snacks. Not only will you get a new book every month, you’ll be introduced to new tasty treats. Maybe make a “no repeats” rule just to make it interesting.
How do I become a good host?
Make everyone feel at home. If some people don’t know each other, have everyone introduce themselves at the beginning of the meeting. Maybe you each share a fun fact. It can be as simple as “I’ve loved to read ever since I picked up “Green Eggs and Ham” or as silly as “my favorite muppet is Gonzo.”
Plan a party. If you read 11 books, have a party for the 12th month. Reward yourselves. Or host a book swap. Have everyone bring some of their old books to one of your meetings. Spend the meeting trading books.
And most of all, just have fun.