Now you have your members, your venue and your time sorted you need to choose the same date each month to hold your new Bookclub. This makes it easy for your members and their parents to remember and it can be circled on their calendars in advance.
Through trail and error I learnt that the middle of the week seems more acceptable to busy parents and children.
Mondays creep up on us far too fast and by Friday everyone just wants to go home and blob, or there is a family event or other function to attend.
(You can always ask what suits your members when they arrive or sign up on the first night. You will never keep everyone happy, but can let the bulk of the date requests help you decide.)
Set up Kit - Before the date of your first book club arrives, put together your set-up kit.
This could include:
You can buy stickers, badges, pencils, glitter pens etc very cheaply to put on your tray. The sticker books can be cut up to make them last many months of book clubs. You could speak to your local bookshop or contact children's publishers to ask if they have any promotional material (even if it is old), like badges, bookmarks or even books. You would be surprised how many books are pulped as damaged when they have a small mark, are sun damaged or sometimes perfectly fine but not required any more.
A clipboard - holds your A4 sheet that is split into columns as listed above. Fill in the details of the new members you have already signed up, so that when they arrive they can tick the box next to their name etc to say they have attended that month's bookclub.
(I'll explain why soon.)
Have lots of spare lines for any new members that arrive.
Name Badges - can be bought in a box of 50 or so and will last for years. Write the names of the members who have signed up already onto a name card each and have them ready for when they arrive. I put them in alphabetical order, so they can pick them up on the way in the door.
Have a black marker pen handy at the beginning of any book club so you can quickly write up a name badge for any new members who come along. Siblings, cousins and friends will often want to join in - as long as they are 8-12 years - tweens (or what ever age you set at the beginning).
The tray - can be filled with any type of treats if you don't want to give out lollies and chocolate. If you want to make handmade treats, just make sure they're individually wrapped on the tray, which is more hygenic, less messy, or so the child can take it home if they wish.
Now you're ready for your first Book club night.
Next post is: 'Why the Tray full of Goodies?'
One of my favourite things to do is talking about and sharing books with Tween readers. (8-12 yrs) And what better way to do that than hosting a book club?
As a children's bookseller for 4 years at Beattie & Forbes Booksellers, running the Tween Bookclub was heaps of fun.
Book clubs can be as small as 3 people, and I've had up to 30 at a session, but 15-20 was the best for a number of reasons which I'll talk about later.
Finding members - If you're beginning a bookclub at your school you can advertise in the school newsletter to let parents know, or on the school noticeboard, in the school library, and in class notices.
Sometimes students will be dubious about a book club. The perception that book clubs are for dorks or nerds or whatever the 'cool' kids want to call them; is still out there.
But word of mouth around a school is a powerful thing and the doubters will soon be lining up to join - if there are any spaces left of course! A waiting list is great for drumming up interest.
I began with 100% girl members and it turned around to over half of the members being boys.
Starting a Tween Bookclub out of school can be advertised in newsletters in schools in your local area, as a poster in your local bookstore, or again, just by word of mouth, text, internet, etc. between interested book-lovers.
Time - It will be tricky to suit everyone, so pick a time that suits the bulk of your new members. If it's at school, lunchtimes or after school are perfect, because everyone is there already.
If it is a bookstore or public bookclub, I found 5.30pm was a good time to host it.
The member's family's made Tween Bookclub night their monthly takeaways night, picking up their dinner on the way home afterwards.
Whatever suits your members is best, because sharing books and how cool they really are, is the result we are aiming for!
Ages of Members - Tweens 8-12 yrs Teens - High School Students
These were the age rules of our book clubs and it was much easier to be firm with them than have disruptive younger siblings during the book club or topics of books being discussed that weren't suitable for younger children.
Venue - Somewhere that is warm in winter, and comfortable in summer is the best venue. Somewhere with room to set up activities, be able to split your Tweens into groups for competitions, or just spread cushions and beanbags around for the members to relax on while you are discussing books.
Free or Pay? - It's up to you whether you have a charge to attend, either yearly or for each book club. Expectations may rise from parents, even if it is incredible value for money. We never charged members, but were lucky to be well supported with prizes, goodies etc.
Consider costs etc to run your book club. Organising activities takes some time, but I will be helping with ideas along the way.
More on beginning a book club soon....