Book clubs are a great way to bring pupils together to share a love of reading in a social setting. The best book clubs are developed in response to pupil and staff interests, building on the books they love and sharing them in creative, relaxed and informal ways.
Getting to know the readers in your school is a great way to begin. You could start by asking your pupils to carry out a reading survey to find out what they enjoy reading. The results will help you to identify the most popular genres and find potential gaps where a club might fit in. Schools across Scotland have come up with lots of innovative and creative book club ideas, so let these examples inspire you!
Creating a club that fits
Offering a club with a specific theme may help to attract young people who feel intimidated by the whole idea of a book club.
For example, one of the most popular clubs last year at Knightswood Secondary School in Glasgow was the Comic and Manga Club. The club focused on comics and graphic novels, creative art challenges and games that linked to library events. The school is hoping to continue the club this year for more illustrated fun.
At Grangemouth High, the librarian hosts a weekly Jane Austin book club for pupils. Members sip tea and eat cake while listening to the stories of Jane Austin being read aloud. The group then talks more about the plot and the role of women in the 18th century. The club managed to continue during lockdown, meeting via Microsoft Teams to read Sense and Sensibility!
Setting the scene
Where you hold your club is important too. Creating a space that feels calm, relaxed and informal will encourage young people to think of reading as something done for pleasure, rather than simply another school task. Providing food and drink can also add to the relaxed atmosphere and encourage participation, especially over break times.
A lovely example of this is Kingcase Primary who have created a Reading Lounge which is open on Tuesday lunchtimes. Pupils are given special passes to come in and can have a drink and a snack while they read their favourite books and listen to music.
Letting your pupils help with the design and management of your club creates a sense of ownership and enables pupils to support each other’s reading journeys. For example, the lunchtime reading club at Calderwood Lodge in East Renfrewshire offers comfortable seating and the advantage of dedicated P6 reading ambassadors on hand to help younger children to enjoy the books on offer.
Milnathort Primary even found a fun way to continue their Reading Café into lockdown. Families were encouraged to create their own reading cafés at home and parents shared lovely pictures of their children’s inventive indoor and outdoor creations on Twitter.
Get everyone involved
Book clubs needn’t focus solely on pupils either. Including parents, staff and the wider community can help to reinforce the message that books are for everyone.
Why not consider a staff book club? This can be a great way to discover new literature, promote discussion and generate cross curricular projects. Staff at Dunfermline High created an online book club during lockdown, enjoying great book discussion and staying connected while the school was closed. Adventurous staff at Trinity High received book suggestions from their S3 pupils who created a list of their favourite books and challenged staff to choose one and read it by Christmas!
Many schools also invite parents and carers to take part in their book clubs. At Clovenstone Primary parents and carers come in to read with their children as part of “book and a biscuit” sessions. And some schools even created book clubs for others. Braehead Primary visit their local care home once a week to read and discuss books with the residents. Even if restrictions mean that you can't involve your community at the moment, you could plan to invite them along to your book clubs in the future!
Whatever you choose to do, let us know how you get on and share your great ideas with us on Twitter @FMReadChallenge, so that we can encourage more wonderful, creative book clubs in the future!