Whether you choose to make them or not, January is commonly associated with resolutions. Since resolutions often include improving your health, reconnecting with friends, and taking on new goals and challenges, January is also a great time of year to start a book club that embraces those same ideals - especially with temperatures in Wisconsin tempting us to stay inside, wrap up in a blanket, grab a hot chocolate, and open a book!
Book clubs can take on many forms with varying levels of commitment. They can be as simple as allowing students (or staff!) to come to the library during recess or lunch to read. Maybe there are some competitive spirits who want to try a Battle of the Books. Another option is to create a book club that includes parents. A recent article in Knowledge Quest, “Using Parent Book Clubs to Build a School-Wide Reading Community,” has great ideas, and you can find it in BadgerLink. Or, reach out even further by collaborating with your public library to create a community wide book club or reading event.
Book clubs can be an opportunity to try something new, experiment with technology, and embrace equity. Consider reading a chapter-a-day aloud to your classes, or have students record podcasts of chapters for listeners to enjoy anytime. Involve staff members in student groups, or invite them to form a group of their own. Experiment with clubs that read a wide variety of books with a connecting theme to include all ability levels. Use makerspace areas for students to create things inspired by what they are reading instead of having a discussion.
After deciding on your audience and format, you may need a list of books to read. The Cooperative Children's Book Center has multiple themed lists in addition to the lists and discussion questions for Read On Wisconsin. Although it is a bit late to begin the state competition, WEMTA's Battle of the Books provides fantastic book lists and resources. Be innovative with award winners and “best of…” lists, and use them as inspiration for students and staff to create their own lists to store in your online catalog.
Book clubs are not new to school libraries, yet they certainly support elements of the Future Ready Librarian framework. They are great opportunities to personalize student learning through empowering students as creators, cultivating community relationships, and possibly facilitating professional learning and collaboration, as well. Because there are many great book club ideas and formats to choose from, consider the needs of your students, teachers, community members, and library program as you take action on your new resolution. And, don’t forget the hot chocolate!