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Are you looking for a way to make reading aloud more fun with your kids? Consider starting a book club day with them!
WHAT IS A BOOK CLUB IN OUR HOUSE?
In our house this has a different meaning than what you’re probably picturing in your head right now. We don’t invite friends into this…yet. We don’t even really do a ton of activities centered around the book itself. Oh, how I wish to be that mom. Maybe someday. But right now in this season I’m simply inviting my children into adventures with me. And by adventures I mean into stories where they get to see heroes and heroines, problems being solved, tasteful humor and so much more that can shape those little minds and hearts. Book club in our home is a fancy way to propose reading together aloud.
WHY START A BOOK CLUB?
One day I noticed that I had a problem in our home. I had inadvertently allowed for more screen time than I now wish I had. It became too easy for the kids to choose that over many other forms of entertainment. They turned their noses up at reading aloud. I had to go to great measures to get them outside. If they could, they would choose tv every time.
Not only that, but the attitudes within our home were at an all-time low. Have you ever noticed this correlation? More tv or any other screen and the more it seems their little hearts just aren’t themselves? Maybe that’s just us, but I will tell you that the few times I’ve taken tv away altogether for a period of time I’ve seen dramatic differences. It’s like all of the sudden they remember that they are built-in best friends and how to use their imaginations again. It’s pretty jolting to notice the effect that too much screen time seems to have on my kids.
So, I made some changes. One of them was starting a book club.
THE FOUNDATIONS OF OUR BOOK CLUB
But I desperately needed a way to make reading aloud fun to them. My oldest two kids are boys, so I needed a way to appeal to them. I decided calling it a “club” made it sound so much cooler than suggesting, “Hey, want to come read with mom?” Clubs require invitation and this meant they were on the list. Barely secondary to the name was the agenda. In our book club, they chose the book. I’m not crazy, folks. I gave them wonderful options and not free reign here yet. I make sure we are all cozy. We build a pallet on the floor, and I set up their favorite pillows and blankets in their own special places. I like for them to know that they are in a place where their preferences are known, and they are special. It is a special club after all.
The most important part of book club according to the kids are the snacks. What kind of a club would ever be enticing without snacks. Now, this piece of the puzzle is crucial. The snacks aren’t extravagant. Nope. They are almost always my homemade popcorn. It’s something I’ve been making forever and has become a sort of comfort in our home. It’s quick and easy to toss together but it tastes like home to our family. If it’s not popcorn, it’s some sort of store-bought cookie dough or on a rare occasion, something I baked. Sometimes I add a seasonal drink to make them feel fancy. In the cold months, this is hot chocolate. In warm months, it’s things like lemonade, flavored tea or sparkling water.
WHAT DOES OUR BOOK CLUB LOOK LIKE?
I’ve tried this a few different ways and I’ve learned something about myself. It must be simple, or I simply won’t do it. Not long term anyway. We host a special book club day once a week where I pull out the snacks and it’s an experience. Most days, however, since we’ve fallen in love with the story, book club happens around the table at lunch. Notice a trend here? If you want your kids to love reading just add food. Haha! Or that’s the secret to winning my kids over anyway.
They eat quietly while I make all the voices and drama. When they are finished with their food, they quietly move to an activity I set out for them before we start lunch. Most of the time this is just sketching in their read aloud journals. Some days it might be play dough. Other days it might be puzzle blocks, Legos or bead art. Many days I set out to read a chapter while they eat and then they end up begging for more.
MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT BOOK CLUB
So far, my favorite thing is the time spent connecting as a family. It’s fun to hear them ask great questions, role play how they would have handled a situation and laugh about the inside jokes revealed in the story. I’ve seen their vocabulary grow and their ability to sit and engage in activity is so much greater than it was before we became intentional about this.
I read The Read-Aloud Family early last year and was so intrigued by the research that Sarah Mackenzie shares about how reading aloud impacts critical thinking and success in higher education down the road.
I love that the kids are learning to enjoy reading and the world that opens up to them. They also connect it with fun and family time and not as a task delegated by school. I hope this fosters a deep love for good literature both new and old. I hope that love serves them well far beyond their years living in my home.
READY TO START YOUR OWN BOOK CLUB?
Here’s your gentle reminder to keep it simple. Grab a couple things to keep those sweet hands busy. Grab some snacks. They don’t have to be homemade. Remember to get cozy and that this is about being with your kids much more than it is about them sitting perfectly still and hearing every word you read. This is a skill they develop over time. Trust me. They get better with more practice.
When you need to change it up, move it outside or opt for an audio version. We love using Audible and our Yoto players for this.
While you’re dreaming up ideas, don’t forget to snag a free copy of my reading goal worksheets. I love getting my ideas out on paper, so I don’t stay stuck in planning mode. You can read a bit more about how I plan these goals out here.
Thanks for stopping by my friends. I hope you leave with some fresh ideas on how to make reading something that fosters connection. Please don’t forget to connect with me over on Instagram and Pinterest so we can share a more day to day friendship. I love to show snippets of our homeschool day and things we are loving on a regular basis.