How to Start a Book Club for Elementary Students

Our daughter ready for her first Book Club!
Our daughter ready for her first Book Club!

Getting Starting

Promoting a life-long love of reading is a priority for teachers and parents. Creating a fun environment to read and discuss books is a great tool for fostering this goal! We have started book clubs for our daughters, and they have continued for years. The key is to make it fun and rewarding and chose books that provide children with the opportunity to think, reflect, and share. I've provided this guide with the following tips that I have found beneficial over the years:

  • Appropriate book club books for kids from 2nd-5th grade
  • How to get started
  • Organizing the book club
  • Choosing the right book
  • Preparing for the book club
  • Sample questions to ask during the meeting
  • Thinking about the rules of the meeting
  • Sample emails to send to parents

Book Club Book Ideas for Kids in 2nd and 3rd Grade

Reading Level
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
Kate DiCamillo
3rd/4th Grade
Roald Dahl
3rd/4th Grade
The Chocolate Touch
Patrick Skene Catling
3rd Grade
Any Magic Treehouse Book
Mary Pope Osborne
2nd/3rd Grade
The Little Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
3rd Grade
Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Babe Ruth Baseball
David Adler
2nd/3rd Grade
Time Warp Trio Books
Jon Scieszka
3rd Grade
It's Raining Pigs and Poodles (poetry)
Jack Prelutsky
2nd/3rd Grade
The Year of Billy Miller
Kevin Henkes
2nd/3rd Grade
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things (Alvin Ho, #1)
Lenore Look
2nd/3rd Grade
Andrew Clements
2nd/3rd Grade
Because of Winn Dixie
Kate DiCamillo
3rd Grade

Book Club Ideas for Kids in 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade

Reading Level
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
Kate DiCamillo
3rd/4th Grade
The One and Only Ivan
Katherine Applegate
4th/5th/6th Grade
Where the Red Fern Grows
Wilson Rawls
5th/6th Grade
Gary Paulson
4th/5th Grade
The Giver
Lois Lowry
5th/6th Grade
11 Birthdays
Wendy Mass
5th Grade
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis
4th Grade
RJ Palacio
5th/6th Grade
Out of My Mind
Sharon Draper
5th/6th Grade
Counting by 7s
Holly Goldberg Sloan
5th/6th Grade
When you Reach Me
Rebecca Stead
4th/5th Grade

Organizing an Elementary Age Book Club

If you have a school-age child, it's the perfect time to start a book club with them, their peers, and their peers' parents! We recently started a book club for our second grader and the kids had a lot of fun.

I was particularly impressed with the kids' discussion and their level of insight into the book. There was a bit of silliness since they are 8-year-olds, but the book club leader did a great job keeping the group focused.

I wanted to share my experience with you and provide a guide to getting started in your book club. The format that I'm going to lay out is doing book club as an extra-curricular, although you could try to coordinate with your child's teacher and see if you could do it during school hours.

So let's get to it! Here's a step-by-step guide to starting your book club for kids.

Step 1: Send out an Email

  • Email the parents and children from your child's grade to see if anyone is interested in participating in a book club. Remember that the kids will need to be able to sit for about an hour to discuss the book, so keep age in mind as younger kids will have a harder time staying focused.
  • I would aim to get about twelve kids involved since some won't make every book club, and you need at least eight kids present each month to have an excellent discussion.
  • In the email, explain that the book club will happen once a month and that everyone will be asked to choose a book, purchase the book for the group, and lead the discussion based on a rotating schedule. In our experience, buying a bulk amount of books at one time is better than having each family buy their book separately every month.
  • I would also suggest that the parent reads the book with their child to ensure the child fully understands it and can have a meaningful discussion with their friends. This is especially true for younger children.
  • If you send out the introductory email, you should be the first to choose the book and lead the meeting. This way, you can set the tone for how future book clubs will be run (there's a sample email attached at the bottom of the Hub).

The library is a great location for a book club.
The library is a great location for a book club. | Source

Step 2: Decide on a Time and a Place

  • We have our book club on the first Monday of every month, which makes it easy to remember and to plan for. Choose a time and day to meet, and keep it as consistent as possible every month.
  • You can either host the book club at a local library, the school library, or at your home. We like hosting ours at the public library, and have found that hosting at peoples' homes can be difficult because most families have other siblings that tend to be distracting, but it might work for your group. You just have to ask!

My Favorite Book Club Book for Kids

The One and Only Ivan
The One and Only Ivan

This is one of my all-time, favorite children's books. It is wonderful for discussions and can be read aloud at any age. I recommend it for older grades 3-6 for great discussions.


Step 3: Choose the First Book

  • After finalizing your group, it's time to choose the first book and decide on activities for the hour and the materials you might need.
  • If you are starting in 2nd or 3rd grade, I recommend a grade level chapter book that's on the easier side for the kids to read. Since this is their first book club, they should feel like this is a fun experience instead of a huge chore. For our second grade book club, we chose The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet from the series The Secrets of Droon. It is about 70 pages, but has large print and is fairly easy reading for most second graders. It also appeals to both boys and girls, which is something you might want to consider when choosing a book.
  • If you need help finding appropriate books, you can check out the Scholastic Book Wizard for Teachers site that has an index of grade appropriate books. I also recommend Goodreads.


Step 4: Preparing for a Successful Book Club

Since you chose the first book, you will be in charge of leading the book club and developing activities for the kids. You can start the book club with 10-15 minutes of discussion prompted by some pre-determined questions about the book (more on discussion questions below).

You'll get better discussion results if your child leads, asking the questions and calling on the other students. Of course if your child is young, they may need a lot of help with this.

Unlike adult discussion groups, which can last for hours and hours, after some questions at the beginning the kids will be ready for a book-related activity that allows them to stand up and use some other forms of creativity. Some activity ideas are:

  • Printing out a few short descriptions from the book on small pieces of paper and letting the children choose one to draw.
  • Having the children act out a few parts of the book in either small groups or as a whole group.
  • Dividing the children into small groups and guiding each one to create a Venn diagram or character web of the characters in the book.
  • Create a film strip of events that happened in the book, splitting the book into parts and giving one to each group, or having the kids work together on doing the whole book.

It's a good idea to have a short tutorial on the activity for the kids before letting them start - don't assume that all children will know how to do something.

You might also want to enlist the help of other parents at this point in the book club. At least one or two adults should be involved with each group of students.


Examples of Book Club Questions for Kids

Depending on the age of your child, you should have at least 10 discussion questions ready, and probably more just to be safe. You and your child can choose the questions together beforehand. Focus on picking open-ended questions that cause the children to think and that have more than one answer.

A good way to start the discussion is by asking the kids to put their thumbs up if they liked the book, to the side if they thought it was just so-so, and down if they didn't like it. This question gets the kids focused and moving their body right at the beginning of the book club.

Here are some other ideas for discussion questions to start off with:

  1. Would you give this book a thumbs up, down, or to the side (if you just thought it was okay)? Show the group.
  2. Who in the book do you most relate to? Why?
  3. What would you do if (relate to something that happened in the book)?
  4. If there was a sequel to this book, what do you think would happen?
  5. Are any characters in the book like characters from other books that you've read?
  6. What was one of the problems that happened in the book? How would you have solved it?
  7. Did any of the characters change in the story? How so?
  8. Would you read another book by this author? Why?
  9. How did the story make you feel? (You can talk about a specific part or in general)
  10. In what ways are you similar to or different from any of the characters in the book?
  11. What characters in the book were good? Why?
  12. What characters were bad? Why?
  13. Now that we've talked a little about the book, do you still give it the same thumbs up, side, or down? Show us and tell us why.

Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Structuring Your Club: Developing Book Club Rules

Just like it's important to let the kids lead the discussion, they should also be active in helping organize the group and give it structure. In the first meeting, have your child help lead the group to establish some ground rules.

As you establish each rule, write it down on a piece of paper that you can bring to every meeting and go over briefly at the beginning to remind everyone of what they've agreed on.

Here are some of the ones we've used in the past:

  1. Come prepared to discuss the book.
  2. Allow the student leader to lead the meeting.
  3. Be good listeners.
  4. Raise your hand if you would like to talk.
  5. Be respectful of our friends.
  6. Ask questions.
  7. Feel free to disagree with your friends, just do it respectfully.
  8. Have fun!


Step 5: It's Time to Meet

It's the big day! Time for book club to begin. Here's a step-by-step breakdown of the different parts of a successful club:

  • Get to the venue 15 minutes early to move around tables and set up a circle for the kids and parents to sit in. You might also want to get a white board or flip chart to write down anything you'll need for the lesson.
  • Once everyone arrives, go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves.This is a good segway into deciding on and going over the rules, but don't spend more than 5 minutes on this.
  • After you've decided on some rules (see example ones above), write them down and bring them each time to go over briefly before club begins.
  • Let the discussion and fun begin!
  • After you've asked a few questions, go over your brief lesson that introduces the activity, if there is one, and split the kids up into groups. The activity should take about 10-15 minutes.
  • Come back into the group and have the children share their activity.
  • If you have time, ask a few more questions from the list.
  • Before you pass out the snack, have the next book club leader discuss the book that they have chosen and distribute the books as everyone leaves. (Be sure to send the parent a reminder to bring the book to the next book club meeting.)
  • Pass out snack and discuss the leader schedule for the next book clubs (after the one next month).
  • You might want to consider starting a Google or Facebook group as a way to keep everyone organized. This, of course, depends on what your group members are most comfortable and familiar with.

Let us know how it goes in the comment section if you decide to have a book club with your kids. The most important thing to remember is to have fun and make the experience as enjoyable as possible for the kids to help foster a lifelong love of reading!

Email Example for Recruiting Book Club Members

Hello 2nd Grade Families,

I hope you're doing well. I had the idea recently to start a book club for our kids and wanted to pass it by you all to see if you might be interested in a project like this.

The book club will meet once a month (hopefully at our school library) to discuss a book and engage in different book-related activities. The overall goal, of course, is to encourage the kids to discuss and enjoy different kinds of literature.

Participation would entail reading a book with your child once a month and attending the meetings together as well as choosing a book and leading one of the meetings. (That would be once a year if we have 12 kids.) The leader is also in charge of purchasing the book for the group and distributing.

We are aiming to involve around 12-14 kids.

The child that chose the book will lead the discussion, and I and my child will lead the first one to demonstrate. We can choose the order of book club leaders later, as well as discuss how to help choose a good book for 2nd graders that leads to good discussions.

If you're curious, the general format of the book club will be to start with discussion of the book (which the kids have read together with their parents), then to engage in a short activity relating to the book (could be acting parts out, doing a craft, etc.), and then ending with a small snack that is connected to the book in some way.

Please let me know if you are interested and what nights of the week work for you (possibly the 2nd Monday of the month.)

Would you and your 2nd grader be interested in joining our book club?


Your Name

More by this Author

Comments 25 comments

BStoneBlog profile image

BStoneBlog 3 years ago

Great idea! With summer vacation starting tomorrow, this looks like a fun way to sneak in some education.

Lori 4 years ago

What a wonderful hub! Thanks so much for this it has helped me organize and direct my current after school book club!

Robin profile image

Robin 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Robert, thanks for the comment. I'm glad the guide was useful!

Karen, feel free to act like it was all your own idea! ;) Thanks for leaving the comment!

Support Med., reading with your kids is one of the biggest influencers of children learning to love to read. I'm so glad that you read and talk about the books with your family!

Habee, I bet your grandkids would love a book club! We are actually going to our meeting tonight. Georgia really loves the experience! Cheers!

habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Wonderful idea! My grandkids love to read, so this would be right up their alley. Your daughter is beautiful!! Voted up.

Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 5 years ago from Michigan

Very interesting hub! Great for helping children maintain a joy for reading. My family and I do this with each other, as I often read what they are reading - and we'll talk about it. voted and rated.

Karen 5 years ago

You are supermom, Robin! I love this! I'm stealing every idea here, and I may or may not pretend that I thought of it myself. :)

Sonya Medema 5 years ago

Robin! It is so timely that you posted this now! Charlotte and her cousin were just talking about starting a book club. This will get us focused - thank so much! I hope you are well.

Robert Veight 5 years ago

Robin, what a great hub! You have provided a very useful idea along with a well-laid out plan and set of recommendations to get started. I have bookmarked this hub for future reference. Thanks.

Rosefall profile image

Rosefall 5 years ago from Ohio!

I like this idea. It encourages reading at a very young age! Great hub!

Robin profile image

Robin 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Thanks for the comments, anjali and jpcmc. I agree, the "why" is the most important part of the story. Open ended questions get the discussions rolling and are a great way to help kids start to think about the events and characters.

jpcmc profile image

jpcmc 5 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

This is really awesome and useful. I love books and I want the next generation to appreciate them as well. This is a great hub.

anjali 5 years ago

What is the name of the best friend? etc,) but the main goal is to get the kids discussing the books. Not just what was your favorite part, but WHY?

Robin profile image

Robin 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Mrs. Menagerie,

You should try it with your third grader and their friends. They can continue for many years and eventually do it on their own. It's a great way for kids to really discuss books in a fun environment! Thanks for reading!

Mrs. Menagerie profile image

Mrs. Menagerie 5 years ago from The Zoo

I have a first and third grader and this sounds like an awesome idea. My third grader loves to read and I think he would really get into a book club. Thanks for the idea.

laine harrison profile image

laine harrison 5 years ago

i remember my very own book club. thank you for this hub!

brianyin profile image

brianyin 5 years ago

yes,it is useful

Robin profile image

Robin 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Peggy,

I did love teaching kids, but it is also fun teaching adults! Usually there are fewer behavioral issues. ;) We do have a few rowdy Hubbers, but they make life more interesting! ;) Thanks for reading!

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Robin,

I'll just bet that you were a terrific teacher! Book clubs for children (and their participating parents) is a great idea. You have nicely laid out a workable format within this hub for others to follow. Sparking an interest in reading at a young age benefits those youngsters the rest of their lives in so many ways. Useful and up rating!

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

A wonderful idea. Wish you luck.

Robin profile image

Robin 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Ohhhh! Organizing something like this through the library would be wonderful! If you decide to do it, let us know!

lorddraven2000 profile image

lorddraven2000 5 years ago from Wheelwright KY

Nice stuff. I run a library so this might be very useful.

Dr irum profile image

Dr irum 5 years ago

That's very nice informative hub .Great knowledge , So i rate up .

maria.rose profile image

maria.rose 5 years ago from Florida

Good Robin! your hub is very nice & energetic I really appreciate it. It is full knowledge and I shall also try this message that you are giving by your hub is very interesting and heart touching & getting this we amazingly said Wahoo! Thanks a lot to share this information with us........

Robin profile image

Robin 5 years ago from San Francisco Author

Hi Lily Rose! Thanks for the comment. You could do a modified version for Kinders. I would have less children (maybe only 6-8), a picture book that parents read with their kids, and have it be shorter (maybe only 30 min.) It would be a great way to get things started! It sounds like you have a great reader on your hands! ;)

Lily Rose profile image

Lily Rose 5 years ago from East Coast

What a fantastic idea, Robin! I never would have thought of a book club for this age, but it's perfect for those that love to read (which I firmly believe all kids should!)

My oldest would probably love to be a part of a club like this but she's only in kindergarten (yet reading Junie B. Jones books already!) so we've got a couple of years...I'm bookmarking this, though, and I will come back to it to organize her first book club when the time is right!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article