How To Host Your Own Family Summer Book Club in 5 Easy Steps

Does your library sponsor a summer reading club? Some do and some don’t. At some libraries the book clubs are restricted to a certain age group or a short period of time.

Either way, summer is the perfect time to get in extra reading and keep the learning going. So, here is a guide to establish your own summer reading club within your family (or even your neighborhood) in five easy steps!

1. Choose a Time Frame

A family reading club can last just a week or the entire summer. Be sure to set a start and finish date, though, from the beginning. This gives everyone a fair chance to plan their reading out.

Pick a reasonable amount of time. A few weeks is ideal. If the club goes too long, it loses momentum. If it is too short, there’s not enough time to really get immersed in the world of reading.

In my family, we are having our reading club from July 1st-29th. We have done as short as ten days, though, and it was still worth the while. A short term reading club is a great change of pace, especially for homeschoolers, in the winter months, or if life gets busy with a new baby or move. (The kids will still be learning, but you don’t have to be teaching.) It’s like a mini getaway without having to pack!

2. Set Up a Point System

Determine how you will award points. With a large age span, it is difficult to just award a point per book. So, give points based on one short book or twenty pages of a longer book, for example. This allows the older children and adults to delve into great literature without feeling like they have short changed themselves as younger siblings zoom ahead.

It is also a good idea to assign different point values for different types of reading.

Here is a sample points plan:

  • Two points per book or twenty pages read independently
  • Two points per picture book read to a younger sibling
  • Three points per audiobook completed
  • One point per chapter of family read-alouds

3. Make a List of Rewards

Rewards do not have to be expensive to be meaningful and enticing.

One of our family’s favorite rewards is a living room camp-out. We set up air mattresses in the living room, read stories by flashlight, and watch a movie. It costs nothing, but it is always at the top of the request list, so I make that worth forty-five points.

Here are some other ideas:

  • Get to watch an extra thirty minutes of educational television
  • Have a picnic at the beach
  • Invite a friend over to play
  • Take a friend ice skating
  • Pick what’s for dinner
  • Have a family movie night including popcorn
  • Earn a new book worth $10 or less
  • Get a day off of chores
  • Spend the afternoon at the park
  • Have a make your own pizza party
  • Go out for an ice cream cone
  • Get a $5 gift card to the Dollar Tree
  • Eat whatever you want for breakfast–yes, cookies count!

As you can see, most of these rewards cost very little, if anything. The children are working more for experiences than physical prizes. This makes running the reading club easy on the pocket book and prevents extra clutter. Both are wins for any family.

4. Remember Family Reading

Pick a book or two to use as a family read aloud. It will be fun to all experience the same book, and it also levels the playing field since everyone is reading together. Knowing that everyone is reading will encourage the reluctant readers, as well.

Note that this is a FAMILY reading club. So, mom, dad, even grandma and grandpa, need to pull out their books and start saving up the points! Add a few prizes for parents to the list!

Experiencing this as a family emphasizes the importance and joy of reading. It’s also a good excuse to catch up on that novel you have been wanting to pick up, but couldn’t because of work, school, or housework.

5. Tally the Points

At the end of the reading club, have everyone submit their tally sheets. Give each participant his grand total and see who earned the most points.

As a family, celebrate completing the club together. Again, pick something simple but meaningful. The best part is spending time together and relishing your accomplishments.

Just as for the actual reading, set a time frame for redemption of prizes. This may seem legalistic, but it prevents mom or dad from losing track of which prizes have been awarded.

Nothing is worse than a child claiming a year later that he never got his prize, and you can’t remember if he did or not. A time frame keeps up the excitement and allows for a completion of the project, which makes for a better transition back to everyday life.

How are you getting your family reading this summer?

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