Why did I make it the children's responsibility to sign in? Just that - to make them responsible for themselves with a nice incentive at the end of the year for doing so.
But - I would always ask before we began the Tween Book Club session if everyone had remembered to sign in - There was always a few who would jump up and do it if they had forgotten.
The incentive to do this? A bag of goodies at the end of the year at the December meeting.
This 'Christmas' meeting was always special. We would invite everyone to come along as a book character, and it didn't matter if it was just a little face paint or a costume from head to foot, everyone always had a fantastic time.
For the first few years I would bake xmas goodies, have popcorn, drinks and chippies. But when I asked if parents could bring along a plate of goodies for the meeting, they were only too pleased to help!
(One Christmas, a mum had only realised on the way to Book club that she had left her contribution on the table at home, so she dashed into a fish and chip shop and brought along a few scoops of hot chips. They went down a treat!)
After some fun photos, we would always talk about our favourite book for the year - it was a tough decision for most! Then I would hand out Christmas goodie bags, and this is where the 'Signing in Incentive' kicked in.
The more bookclub meetings a member came to, the more goodies they got at the December meeting!
It was tough (fun) competition amongst a few members and their friends, as to how many monthly meetings they could tick off over the year - and the prizes weren't by any means expensive. It was just friendly rivalry at being the person with the most ticks!
Possible Gifts for Christmas Goodie Bags - List
At our first Christmas meeting, we used brown paper bags - but then Banks, publishers, or retail stores would gift them to us. It was good advertising for the businesses because their logo was all over the bags, and a great way to hand out goodies!
We were lucky enough to get over-runs of books, 'readers' copies (with plain covers), and samples from publishers which we put aside all year, so that each book club member went away with at least one book to keep from the December meeting.
Don't have access to a publisher? Ring and ask them. You'd be amazed at how many books are pulped as returns from booksellers etc. If that is still not possible, why not check out the next second hand book sale in your area, or the next book sale at bargain stores. Many of these stores buy 'remainders', in bulk from publishers and then sell them at really cheap prices. I've found brand new kids and teens books at School Gala Book Tables.
Keep your eyes and ears open throughout the year. If you are anything like me, you'll be going to the book sales anyway - and its amazing what 'near new' treasures you'll find!
Inside the Bags - Can be sourced throughout the year
Special Note: Depending on whether you have chosen to charge members to attend your Book club could determine what you have in your goodie bags. We never charged a cent over 4 years and the members always went away with something.
Members Leaving: Members may leave for many reasons - but the special reasons were if they were turning 13, going to High School, or moving away. We would always make a fuss of them saying goodbye, and many times would be welcoming them in the New Year to the Teen Bookclub!
So - December Meetings were usually:
- Arrive in Book Character Costume / Photos
- Discuss our favourite books for the year
- Hand out Goodie Bags - 'the most attended meetings' members were first
- Eat the yummy goodies they'd brought along to share
- Farewell for another year!
My next 'Tween Bookclubs' post will be 1st January 2016 - Book Club Activities
Have a Merry Christmas and a fabulous time with family and friends!
Although I'd like to think all our Tween Bookclub members came purely for the love of reading, I know the truth - chocolate, lollies and other goodies - even if it was just a small inexpensive lollipop, definitely aided their presence!
Ok, so you might not want to have these sugary treats on offer, or the parents might not want their children having them - it's entirely up to you. But start as you mean to go on. If you have none in the beginning, none will be expected.
The tray became a huge part of our Tween Book club with all the goodies on offer (as mentioned in my previous post). But the members had to do something before they were given the opportunity to choose something off it.
But first we begin with the members arriving:
- The members sign in by ticking the box next to their name on the list you have prepared prior - or they enter their details onto the list while you are writing them a new name tag. (See the next post why they sign in.)
(Make sure their email address is correct so you can let them know all the details of the next bookclub night.)
- They make themselves comfortable on cushions or beanbags or whatever you have chosen to use. I found these help the members to relax. They are with other children they haven't met yet, and may be unsure of new surroundings if it is in a bookshop or somewhere they are not familiar with.
We began every Tween Bookclub with the tray.
- On the very first meeting you could ask members to talk about their favourite book, or author, why etc, or about the book they have brought along for the first meeting.
Some will be too shy to do this on the first Bookclub, but there will always be a keen, confident member or two who can't wait to talk about their book, or favourite author.
- Ask them to come up the front with you (I always sat on a chair - not the floor!) and talk about their book.
Public speaking is frightening for many - young and old. But this is a way to help the young members with that. They will have to stand up in front of their class at school at some stage, and parents commented on how doing this with a smaller group such as Tween Bookclub, helped with those fears.
- First, have them introduce themselves (even if they are wearing nametags), say how old they are and maybe what school they are at?
- Help them to structure their review by asking simple questions like who wrote it, why did they like it, etc and further down the track when they have a few bookclubs under their belt, you can add questions about genre, style, point of view or any manner of things, which will help them structure book reviews for school etc in the future.
- Keep their review/talk to about 2-3 mins each, and then when they have finished, offer them something from the tray.
Suddenly, eyes light up and they realise that if they are brave enough to do a review, they too can choose from the tray.
Bribery? Trickery? _ I call it Incentive!
My next post will cover just that! What next?