Book Clubs are about two things: community and the skill of reading for pleasure.
Stephen Krashen, in The Power of Reading. argues for the value of “Reading because you want to [with] no book report, no questions at the end of each chapter, not looking up every vocabulary word.” While he is promoting Free Voluntary Reading, this same philosophy applies to book clubs.
Additionally, book clubs create community. Though we typically think of reading as a solitary activity, book clubs are inherently communal and need social momentum to thrive. There is no substitute for the social bonds formed by sharing the experience of reading. In other words, when small talk in the hallway is about reading, it further cements a culture of learning in the school and builds enthusiasm for both staff and students around the book club text and meeting. During passing time, our principal will frequently stand in the hallway and ask students if they've made it to the shark attack scene or what they thought of the ending. These moments help transform book clubs from isolated events into part of the culture of our school.
In the end, they key to a successful book club is for it to NOT feel like traditional school. Students own the questions, the reading calendar and the overall experience. Throw out the packet, bring out the cookies, have some fun.
Student Outcomes of Book Clubs:
Independent reading greatly increases student achievement in reading, writing and vocabulary.
Book clubs build relationships between students and facilitate relationships between students and school staff outside of the traditional classroom context.
Book clubs create opportunities to address emotionally sensitive issues in a non-threatening way.
Book clubs use literacy as an entry point for SEL and address all five of Casel’s core competencies.