How to Start a Summer Book Club for Kids

summer book club for kids

Are you looking for a fun way to incorporate reading in to your family’s schedule over the break? How about starting a summer book club for kids?

It’s the perfect way to combine the excitement of a playdate with learning, avoiding the academic “summer slide” that happens when kids don’t read over break.

Excited to Read

Katie Keber, a teacher and mom of 4, has organized a summer book club for her crew and their friends for the past five years.

“I think what the kids love the most is an opportunity to get together with friends,” says Keber.” “Every spring my kids start asking me about summer book club and begin brainstorming books and activities they want to incorporate.

“It is awesome to see them so excited about reading!”

Humble Beginnings

The original idea for a book club came from Keber’s friend who has a daughter the same age as her oldest. Both girls love to read.

“This mother and I have teaching backgrounds and thought it would be fun to put our brains together to develop fun and motivating activities that involve and encourage reading,” says Keber.

Over the years, the idea grew and Keber assisted with and organized book clubs for all four of her kids.

Boys and girls. Beginning to advanced readers. Bookworms and kiddos that needed more motivation.

“I have been doing summer book clubs with my children for five years now,” says Keber. “In those five years, we have had so much fun and are creating so many great memories.”

Here she offers some tips for making it a success.

MarbleSpark: How do you organize your summer book club?

Keber: “The organization of the book clubs varies by age, abilities, and interests.  When the kids were younger, it was more like story time.

“Each meeting would have a theme, and we would read several books and complete fun activities to go along with the theme.

“Now, the process has progressed to where my oldest is choosing the book for her meeting, planning the activities, and leading the discussions, all on her own.”

MarbleSpark: Do you have to adapt the book club based on the kids in the group?

Keber: “Just as all the kids are unique, I have found that motivating some book clubs is easy, but that other book clubs need more frequent encouragement.

“It sometimes even helps to incentivize the process by incorporating competition or challenges.”

MarbleSpark: What fun incentives have you used?

Keber: “We might keep track of incremental milestones like most pages, minutes or books read. Or we may create a summer reading bingo where kids can fill in the boxes on their bingo card based upon what they have read.

“For example, one box might be, “Reading in the Tub,” while another might be, “Reading Two Books by the same author.”

“Fun activities like read and feeds, read and swims, movie nights, game nights, library outings, book swaps, and traveling books (swapped from person to person) are all methods we have used to motivate the young readers in our book clubs.”

MarbleSpark: What sorts of books/format work best for beginning readers?

Keber: “When the kids were beginner readers, the book club meetings would have a theme or feature an author, and I would usually read several books aloud that fit the theme or that were written by the featured author.

“If the kids felt comfortable, I would encourage them to bring a book that fit the theme to read to a partner.  In this case, I would encourage them to read it ahead of time to be prepared, thereby building fluency and encouraging independent reading.”

MarbleSpark: Any other creative ideas for the little ones?

Keber: “I would also create opportunities for a book swap; I love having the beginning readers bring a bag with five of their favorite books to read to share with their book club buddies.

“The bags go home with a new buddy at the end of each meeting so that by the end of the summer each child has had the opportunity to read lots of new books at or near their reading level. “

MarbleSpark: What about for older readers?

Keber: “The older readers are expected to read a book between meetings and then be prepared to discuss the book and participate in activities that go along with the book.  Each year the kids have become more and more independent.

“My oldest now picks the book, creates the activities, and leads the discussion for her meeting.  It is wonderful to see them take charge, and it makes our job a lot easier.”

MarbleSpark: Are there any mistakes that you made and changed along the way?

Keber: “We have tried to incorporate writing into the book clubs and this seems to always be the kids’ least favorite part.”

MarbleSpark: Any other tips for someone just getting started?

Keber: “My recommendation for someone trying to start a kids summer book club is to get the kids involved in the planning and book selections.

“Also make it fun and exciting so that it doesn’t seem like work. They will happily do the reading if the meetings are enticing enough.”

MarbleSpark: Any other resources?

Keber: “The libraries have so many fun and educational opportunities for kids, so make sure to check those out.  Also, reach out to teachers for book lists.”

Good Works

This summer, one of Keber’s daughter’s book clubs has decided to take on an additional group project.

They are running a book donation drive—and lemonade stand–that will benefit a local community center (see their hand-made flyer below).

book club donation drive

It’s another fun way to get the kids together with their friends, encourage reading and help others.

We can’t think of a better way to spend the summer!

For other summer reading ideas, check out our “Tips to Make Summer Reading Fun” and “How Poetry Instills a Love of Reading.”

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