One of the things I have missed most about being quarantined is getting together with friends, especially the ladies in my book club. I mean, we tried over Zoom, but honestly it just wasn’t the same. My solution? Starting a Family Book Club instead. While it may have been a struggle in the beginning, it has been a great way to get our kids interested in books again (since e-learning seemed to have destroyed any love of reading they once had) and has brought the big, wide world into our quarantined home. If you are like us and hoping to socially distance from screens, check out these Family Book Club Tips and Tricks.
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Get “Everybody In”
Just like our beloved Chicago Cubs show us, activites are more exciting and engaging when everyone is involved. So get EVERYONE in your house on board with your Family Book Club, even if your partner is exhausted and would rather zone out in front of the television or if your youngest struggles with sitting still long enough to read a chapter.
Let All Voices Be Heard
As a Reading Specialist, I know that one of the absolute BEST ways to get readers of any age engaged in a story is to let them choose the book. So just like in typical book clubs, rotate who gets to choose the next book to read. Parameters such as length and maturity of content are important factors, but other than that welcome any and all suggestions. Just because you don’t like to read comics doesn’t mean that they arent important and just because there is a picture of a girl on the cover doesn’t mean that boys can’t read it.
Read Diverse Books
As you may have noticed thanks to my Instagram feed, I am making a conscious effort to diversify our family’s bookshelves and I encourage you to do the same. With the Black Lives Matter movement being on the forefront of society right now, it isn’t hard to research books with Black characters written by Black authors (here are some great picture books that celebrate diversity to get you started).
Representation truly matters, and reading diverse books and discussing them with your family is one of the most powerful ways that you can raise thoughtful and respectful individuals who will make racism a thing of the past. Downtown Bookworks is one of my favorite publishers for books that keep kids engaged in reading and the world around them.
Here are some of our Family Book Club picks:
Wishtree by Katherine Applegate
Written from the point of view of a regal oak tree, this story has strong character development and a whimsical detail or two to tackle a serious issue: religious bigotry. Even with such a somber topic, Applegate writes with heart, humor, and inspires everyone (even grown ups) to make a wish. Perfect for grades 2-6
Investigators by John Patrick Green
Do your kids love Dogman, Captain Underpants, and all things graphic novels? Then it’s time to tackle this new series. Investigators follows two unique alligators who serve as detectives to solve mysteries and crimes. A great read to encourage predictions, cause-and-effect, and provide lots of laughs. Recommended for grades 1-5.
A Black Woman Did That by Malaika Adero
This collection of biographies celebrates “Black Girl Magic” in a way that other books don’t. Adero’s book shares the story of 42 boundary-breaking, bar-raising, world-changing women who you know about (Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce Knowles) and those you might not have heard of before (Jesmyn Ward or Faith Ringgold). A great read for kids of any age or color as it breaks down stereotypes and celebrates the success of Black women. Inspiring for grades 4 and up.
Wayside School Stories series by Louis Sachar
I can remember reading about Wayside School as a girl and I absolutely LOVED imagining the unique school filled with colorful teachers and students. This series is perfect for practicing the important reading skill of “visualizing” and Sachar’s vivid writing helps sparks readers’ imagination and creativity. Even the most reluctant reader will laugh out loud when reading this series. Great option for grades 2-7.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
As a Potter-head I would be remiss to not encourage you and your family to tackle one of the Harry Potter books together. Rowling’s beautiful and imaginative writing truly transports you to a world full of magic. While it may be considered a “Fantasy Novel,” it addresses incredibly important real world lessons through the young, adventurous wizards. I highly recommend listening to this book on Audible together, as you can get very tongue tied on all of those magical words. Recommended for grades 4 and up.
Prioritize Snacks and Conversation
Just like in regular book clubs, snacks are KEY for a Family Book Club because they help break the ice and get individuals comfortable enough to start talking about the book at hand. Once chit chat begins, parents can lead conversations about character flaws, conflicts, and life lessons in a way that is much easier than confronting your child about what might be going on in his/her life at the time. Your family can have really important conversations in a less intimidating way depending on the books your family reads as part of your Family Book Club.
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