Starting a book club

I've said this before and I'll say it again, often something good stems from something not so good.

N plays every evening with a bunch of girls. Since it's a mixed crowd across age groups, they often end up simply 'hanging' out much like teenagers : chatting, arguing and sometimes fighting, often ending in tears for at least one of them.

Many times I have tried to make peace but convincing a group of 11- 12 year olds to give up prejudices, however temporary, is hard. After N came home on two consecutive days crying since the girls had 'boycotted' her for some reason I decided to do something about it. In no way am I implying she's always a victim. I am sure there are days she's at the other end too.

I've often shared here, how I've been trying to get the kids to take to reading and also that that I've had little success.

I'd been toying with the idea of a book club for a long time and I thought it would be a great diversion for the girls. It would give them something constructive to think about and talk about. And so The Book Club was born and inaugurated this Saturday, without any fanfare, I might add!

Here's the plan

1. The children meet each Saturday for an hour. They get a story to read which they have to finish till the next meeting.

2. Since none of them are into heavy reading, it shall be short stories first. If the story is too long it'll be broken up into parts. Or we'll take up excerpts.

3. When we meet the following Saturday we'll talk about the book.
- one of the kids will do a short recap.
- we'll pick some tricky words to talk about.
- pick some characters to discuss - their favourite ones, what they liked or didn't like
- we'll discuss alternative endings or anything else that takes our fancy

4. And - this one's purely to keep the kids hooked - we'll do an activity based on the book. It could be drawing a scene from the book, or acting out a sequence, or dressing up like the characters.

5. Oh and one last thing to keep the kids coming - there'll be some snacks too!!

We'll have a few rules

... For what's a club without rules?
1. Read the book before you come to the meeting
2. No interruptions. Raise your hand if you do have to interrupt.
3. Listen to each speaker
4. Address the group not individuals.
5. Be polite
6. Any problem? Suggestions. Do discuss. 
(I find the stories too long, too short, too simple, too tough. 
I have exams I will not be able to read the story.)
7. If you cannot come to a meeting let us know in advance.

So this Saturday we had our first meeting

Since it was the first class and the kids hadn't been given a story I asked them to draw a scene from their favourite story and let the others guess what it was. We had a Mermaid, a Rapunzel, a Cinderella, A Red Riding Hood, an Alice in Wonderland and even a Supandi.

Then I gave them the story for the next week. A simple one called 'The Dragon Rock' (I have to keep H enthused also, you see). Since we had time I got each of the kids to read a paragraph from the story. They had so much fun that we might make book reading a regular feature.

I am keeping it an open exercise as of now because I don't know what the kids will like. I don't even know if they'll keep coming but I sure as hell am going to try.


On next week's agenda a craft activity : Making a dragon
and a brand new story.

Now here's where I need your help... 

This is a first for me and I'm pretty much on my own so I'm hoping you guys can be my sounding board. 

1. If you have any tips about book clubs do let me know.

2. If you can think of book related activities drop me a line.

3. If you know of any short stories that would appeal to the age group of 6-12 ping me please, specially ones from other cultures - Chinese folk tales or Russian stories. I'm leaving out Panchatantra and other Indian stories since the kids might have read them and the novelty factor is essential to keep them hooked. Links would be hugely appreciated since I can print out the stories.

Labels: , , ,