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Want to Get Your Kid to Like Reading? Start a Parent/Child Book Club!

My daughter Ani never sat still long enough for me to read to her. Books held no interest. Because I’m a teacher, I knew I had to read to her; it was non-negotiable. So, I began reading her books while she crunched cereal, mangled ham and cheese and snacked on cut-up fruit.

Parenting makes you creative.

Despite my best efforts in getting Ani to love reading – trips to the library, books as rewards, a reading headlamp and enough books to rival any bookstore, she did not grow to love it – at all.

However, she always loved playing with her friends. So, out of frustration and a hope for positive peer pressure, when Ani was in first grade, I started a mother-daughter book club with my neighbors.

It was a turning point in our lives.

Melissa’s Picks for

Book Club Books

Ages 6 – 8

  • Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamello
  • Franny K. Stein Attack of the 50 Foot Cupid by Jim Benton
  • Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 by Eric Wight

Ages 8 – 10

  • Hate that Cat by Sharon Creech
  • Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
  • Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale
  • 39 Clues by various authors
  • What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau

Ages 10+

  • Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

When the initial email went out to the other first-grade girls in our neighborhood, I didn’t expect an enthusiastic response. But every single mother-daughter pair loved the idea and showed up for the first meeting. Apparently, I wasn’t the only mom worried about her daughter’s reading skills.

Sixteen pairs of mothers and daughters crammed into my neighbor’s tri-level suburban living room. Adults sat on couches or stood; kids sat on the hearth and the carpeted floor.

The first meeting we told the girls we would meet once a month, read one book for each meeting (the girl could read by herself or the mom could read the book to her) and have a discussion. In the discussion, everyone would get a turn and treat each other’s comments with respect. Meetings would include desserts. I exchanged knowing looks with the other moms as the meeting ended and our happy girls ran off to grab cupcakes and play. I hoped, if nothing else, this would make my reluctant reader become a moderately decent reader who didn’t complain at the mention of reading.

Surprisingly, from this initial meeting, we established a flourishing mother-daughter book club, meeting monthly with most mom-daughter pairs in attendance. The girls loved the time with their friends including Ani, who willingly participated. The moms loved it, too. After all, it was a rare occasion when we could get together, drink wine and catch up.

Now, two years later, Ani identifies herself as a reader. For her, participating in a book club was a motivation to read, socialize, and spend special time with me. It helped. She is where I’d always hoped she’d be. She loves to read.

If you think parent-child book club sounds like something you’d like to try, here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Meet regularly in a predetermined location. Our book club meets the last Thursday of every month and we rotate houses.
  • Pick a book. In our case, we let the host girl pick the book to be discussed at her house.
  • Offer food and beverages. Dessert, wine or appetizers.
  • Discuss the book. In our group, after watching the mothers for a year, the daughters now write and ask the discussion questions, from “What was your favorite part?” to “Who would you like to meet?”
  • Invite an author to your meeting. You never know – he or she just might come.
  • See the movie. Ramona and Beezus, for example, was terrific.
  • Plan book-related food. Turkish Delight with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe worked great.
  • Plan book-related games. An Alice and Wonderland croquet game was a big hit.
  • Read different books of the same genre. Each pair reads a different mystery, gives a “book talk” and provides an activity or game.
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