Our oldest daughter who is nearly 13 years old now was our first book club participant. A couple of years ago, we wanted to add the shared experience of reading a book with peers to her list of activities. To achieve this, my wife joined with other homeschooling moms and they launched the Readers United book club. It had about 12 girls in it and they met monthly to discuss the chosen book, do activities and just generally, be social with each other. They even did community service projects together, had holiday parties together and used the club to form strong bonds of friendship that continue to grow now. These things are very valuable, especially in the homeschool community but unfortunately, the social aspect became the dominant appeal for the girls and the club eventually faded away.
Readers United was a great idea and started out with the stated goal of reading books together, but it lost its way and became just another social thing. While we would never call it a failure due to the lasting friendships she has reaped from it, the club itself failed. So, this year, we decided to try again with our struggling to read, 9 year old son, Boy Wonder. So far, it has been much more successful, due in large part to the lessons learned from Readers United.
First of all, they are staying focused on the book. Most of the kids are staying commiteed to reading the books in time and therefore have a vested interest in discussing it when they gather for club. Secondly, the leaders of the club are choosing great literature as their books of the month. So far, they have read Mr. Popper’s Penguins, James and the Giant Peach and The Indian in the Cupboard with Charlotte’s Web coming up next. Readers United relied upon the girls to choose and their choices were for books that were more light reading than good writing. Finally, they are trying to keep it simple. They aren’t trying to make it a catch-all social experience and that has really helped.
Honestly, our kids have tons of social opportunities and we wanted this to be a chance for our son, and the others in the club, to experience books. Hopefully, this club will continue to accomplish its goals but at the very least, our son has experienced some great books that he probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. That’s a win no matter how you shake it.