8 September 2023 is International Literacy Day. This UNESCO initiative aims to:
On this important day, we’re looking at how schools can celebrate and promote literacy amongst their students, beyond the framework of the curriculum.
Creating a culture of reading for fun
Instilling the joy of reading is the best way to impart to your school community the true value of literacy. This also helps students create positive habits that they will continue throughout their education and later life.
An extracurricular school book club provides a great environment for embracing a fun and informal approach to reading. Removed from the pressures of the curriculum and testing, children will feel less anxious about their performance, and be happier to experiment with different reading materials.
Book clubs can also make reading more fun by integrating a variety of book-related activities. Incentivise children to complete their reading at home by offering the reward of related games, crafts and other fun activities at your regular club meetings.
So, you want to start a school book club?
A book club is a great enrichment opportunity for your students. Schools are well-equipped for these kinds of activities, so it needn’t be difficult to run. However, there are several questions to ask yourself before getting stuck into your first book:
1. Who do you want to attend?
Your student body includes a wide age-range, meaning there is a considerable difference in reading levels between the youngest and oldest pupils. Consequently, it is best to focus your book club on a single key stage, if not year group. Ask yourself whether you want to target a certain age-group or open the club to all interested pupils. If the latter, consider running separate sessions for younger and older pupils on different days or alternating weeks.
You should also think about the underlying purpose of your club.
- Are you hoping to support and motivate less-engaged students?
- Help already enthusiastic readers to excel?
- Or simply wish to boost your whole school community’s interest in reading.
Your intentions in starting the club should inform how you will measure its impact and success, which will look different from school-to-school. It may be as simple as comparing attendance and engagement at the club. Alternatively, you may wish to monitor the engagement and attainment of participating students, in the classroom.
2. What will you read?
There are two main approaches to providing reading materials for your school book club.
You could prescribe one book for everyone to read at the same time. This has the advantage of allowing deeper discussions and activities around that particular text at your club meetings. Also, students can support each other’s reading and comprehension of the story and themes. Plus, club organisers can select texts covering particular issues or including more diverse characters or authors than pupils might choose on their own.
Alternatively, you may find benefits in letting children make their own choices. This may be particularly helpful when trying to engage reluctant readers. Children may enjoy exercising their freedom of choice in an extracurricular setting, which needn’t be as prescriptive as regular lessons. Also, discussions and activities on a broader range of topics and genres can help broaden students’ horizons. Children will find it rewarding to teach their peers about their own favourite book.
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out Book Clubs in Schools’ reading list. This includes a diverse range of topics and characters, and was carefully curated with the help of a panel of children’s literature experts.
3. What activities will you offer?
School book clubs should not be solemn, quiet reading circles. Book-related activities should be fun, social and help consolidate what children have learned from their at-home reading. We’ve included some ideas below:
- Games – adapt simple playground or parlour games to include characters, locations or events from your current reading, e.g. who am I, charades, 20 questions, etc.
- Fancy dress –Children love dressing up for World Book Day. Why not have fun with fancy dress more often and ask the children to dress up as their current favourite character for a book club meeting?
- Performance – task your group with creating a song, dance or dramatic portrayal of their current reading material.
- Arts and crafts – Depending on the nature of your current book, children could make props, costumes or masks, draw or paint their favourite scene, location or character. It’s also easy to lead conversations and ask children their thoughts on the book while they are working.
- Book posters or reviews – After finishing a book, ask the children to create a poster or write a review. This helps consolidate their understanding, and the resulting work could be displayed around the school to advertise the book to other children.
4. When and where will you meet?
Think about how frequently your club will meet. Children will need time to read the materials at home in between club sessions, but needn’t read the whole book in one go. A weekly or fortnightly schedule may be best, to keep children in the habit of attending, and set a regular reading target.
You may assume a free classroom is the natural setting, but remember, this is an extracurricular activity, not a lesson. Sessions should be fun, engaging and a bit more informal than regular classes. You may want more space available for games and activities. Therefore, depending on the weather and what you have planned for each session, the school hall or playing field may be a more suitable location.
5. How will your organise your school book club?
Once all these matters have been decided, you’ll need to put your plan into action. But how will you create your schedule, advertise the club, allocate spaces, track attendance, and collect consent forms and fees?
It seems a mammoth task, but our Trips and Events software can help organise your book club and much more! You can schedule sessions, set place limits, advertise online, apply discounts and free places, and create online consent forms. Then, simply wait for parents to book, pay and complete forms from their SCOPAY account, on the website or free app.