How to Start a Summer Book Club for Kids

Book clubs are the perfect way for kids to socialize with friends while encouraging a love of reading.

Kids have just come off the school year and are ready for summer fun. While they may be burned out with traditional learning, it is important to keep them reading for the next few months, so they don’t suffer from the dreaded summer brain drain. One such way to accomplish this is to work with your kiddo to start a summer book club. Book clubs are the perfect way to socialize with friends while encouraging a love of reading.

“Even though school is out, learning doesn’t stop for kids’ developing brains,” says Shelley Hughes, director of Children’s Services and Family Engagement at the Chicago Public Library. “Reading for a surprisingly small amount of time each day can help children maintain skills and stay connected to their love of books and stories.”

Book club planning guide 

If your little one if thinking about starting a book club, here are some steps they may want to take.

1. Decide who to invite

Whether its friends from school, camp or a few of the neighbors, grab a gang that’s roughly the same age and reading level as your child. Book clubs work best with eight or less participants.

2. Schedule your book club

It is important to decide how frequently and when to meet. Because kids are generally busy with day camps, bi-weekly might be a good summer option. Don’t stress out if you can’t accommodate everyone’s schedule. Try to find a day or the week and time that works for most participants (e.g. Tuesdays at 5 p.m.).  To hold the attention of children, we suggest breaking the book club up into two parts consisting of a book discussion (30 minutes) and hands-on activity (30 minutes).

3. Find a location

Most libraries are happy to host a book club with advance notice. Other options include a park, alternating participant’s homes or even hosting the meeting virtually.

4. Choose a theme

While not necessary, having a theme makes for cohesive and fun discussion. Some theme ideas include friendship, STEM and history.

5. Select a book

Round up a few book ideas and pick out of a hat to see what order the books get read.

6. Find an extension activity

Another way to continue the learning is to do a hands-on extension activity after discussing the book. Pinterest has a wealth of craft activities for children’s and middle grade books.

More book club ideas

7. Go to the movies

Is there a movie adaptation of the book? Hughes suggests seeing the movie as a group and comparing the two! “My personal favorite for that model is the book and movie version of Flipped by Wendelin van Draanen, since there are some differences between the book and the movie that are obvious right away.”

8. Zoom with the author

Many authors love doing virtual visits with young fans. After choosing a book, check whether the author has a website or social media, and get in touch with them. Alysson Bourque, award-winning author of The Alycat Series says she is always happy to engage with young readers over the summer. “Kids always have the best questions,” says Bourque. “They make authors think, and sometimes, they expose us to new ways of thinking about our own stories.”

Hughes says that regardless of how they organize a summer book club, kids will certainly benefit from the fun of it.

“We talk a lot in the library world about the benefits of reading with your child, but one thing I hope we never forget is how much fun it can be. There are many ways, and reasons, to build a reader,” she says.

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Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky
Lori Orlinsky is an award-winning journalist and bestselling children's book author. She is the mom of three little ladies who keep her on her toes.


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