We are all involved in the process of writing for children, but books about other kinds of writing may also be read and discussed. Mixing it up will make the meetings more interesting.
Book clubs cover many kinds of genres, such as history, romance, science fiction, etc. Some book clubs meet face-to-face, others are online. Some clubs are more intellectual, some are more social.
If you are thinking of starting a book club, the following should be considered.
- Why start or join a book club? Perhaps a bunch of friends or a church group wishes to start a club.
- What kind of book club do you want? What is the purpose of the club? Book clubs are great for getting to know people better, to spend more time with like-minded people, to learn about new authors and ideas, etc.
- What is the name of the club? For example, you might want to choose a name that’s related to the locale where you live or is related to the genre that you will be reading.
- How often will the club meet and when? Book clubs usually meet monthly, but some don’t get together over the summer. For longer books, club members may gather every 6 weeks. Meetings can be held during the week or on weekends, in the morning, for lunch or dinner, or early evening.
- How long will the meetings be? A set amount of time should be allotted for socializing, business matters and book discussion.
- Where will the club meet? Restaurants, book stores, libraries, and members’ homes are popular locations.
- How many members will the club have? Each member could ask other people to join. Prospective members can be interviewed. A small group, from 8 to 16 members, should be sufficient.
- What books will members read? Each member can bring a list of book suggestions or reviews of books to get ideas. It’s ok to choose two or three books at a time to read in the upcoming months. Some clubs read more than one genre. Some clubs have a price limit or a limit on the number of pages. If books are to be borrowed, talk to a local library to see if enough copies can be obtained.
- Who chooses what books to read? Each member takes a different month, and then suggests three titles. Members vote on which book to read. Or members take turns choosing a book for everyone to read each month.
- Are guides available for the book the club is reading? Some websites, such as http://www.readinggroupguides.com/content/index.asp, have reading guides. Or write your own guide. Also check publisher’s websites for reading guides.
- Who will lead the meeting? Will it be the person who suggested the book or someone else? Perhaps each member would like to have the opportunity to take charge of a meeting and lead the discussion.
- How many questions should the group ask? Each member should write two or three questions or list two or three book passages for discussion.
- Who will keep a record of books that the club has read? Summaries, discussion highlights, and opinions are important and they will help new members see what the club has done previously.
- Will members eat special dishes or use props that pertain to the book that is being read? Foods and decor may add to the enjoyment and understanding of the story.
- How should the discussion go? Make sure everyone gets to contribute to the discussion during the meeting. Give each member their time to speak. Everyone should feel welcome to share their opinions.
- If some members don’t read the book or don’t finish it, will they be invited to attend the meeting? They may have something to contribute, so this is something that should be discussed.
- How will you get new members? How will you advertise the club? You may need to expand your club or replace members who leave. Not everyone will be able to attend every meeting, but you want a large enough group for a healthy and lively discussion.
- How do members keep in touch? Email, a website, and social media are ways to communicate. All members should have a club list with contact information.
For our book club, it’s just the three of us for now. We may ask others to join later. There are at least four writer’s groups in town, so it’s possible we will be able to expand our membership.
Some helpful websites to get you started on forming a book club:
Book Glutten is a new kind of virtual book club. It uses Facebook.
This is an excellent website on how to start a book club.
This is a book club in a box. One could do something similar with other books.
If your club wants to read books on the craft of writing, here is a list of suggestions.
If you have an E-reader, you may find this article helpful.
Reading Group Guides, an online community for reading groups.
Lit Lovers – free classes, recipes and more.
Book Group Registry - free to join, book club/group tips, etc.
Are you a member of a book club? Feel free to post your opinions here.
Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is working on her first children’s book.