Wednesday, April 7, 2021

5 Tips for Starting a Nonfiction Book Club for Kids

Many schools and libraries host fiction-focused book clubs, but it’s important to keep young nonfiction lovers in mind too. After all, studies show that 40 percent of elementary-aged children prefer nonfiction and another 30 percent enjoy fiction and nonfiction equally.

While you can certainly run a student book club that features a healthy mix of fiction and nonfiction titles, some children may be particularly interested in a group that reads all nonfiction. And the benefits are undeniable.

Besides encouraging students to talk about reading, which enhances their comprehension, book clubs give children an opportunity to practice life skills like taking turns, expressing opinions, listening to others, and working collaboratively.

When students read and discuss nonfiction with their peers, they learn to recognize when they don’t understand the text and develop a range of strategies that can aid their comprehension, such as re-reading, asking questions, using a dictionary, and reading passages aloud.

If a nonfiction reading club seems like a good fit for the children you serve, why not give it a try. Here are some tips for getting started.

1.    When students sign up for the club, ask them to fill out a brief survey that will help you identify some of the topics that interest them most.

2.    At the first meeting, briefly book talk a range of titles about the topics they listed in their surveys. Be sure to include books that represent all 5 Kinds of Nonfiction. After the children have had some time to further explore the books on their own, ask them to select their first and second choices. Use that information to determine which books they will discuss during the next few meetings.

3.    Ask the children to decide how often the group should meet and how many pages they’ll read between each meeting.

4.    During the first few meetings, as the students get to know one another, it may be helpful for you facilitate their conversations, but trust that they’ll quickly take ownership of the club and learn to engage in meaningful conversations about the books.

5.    As the students become more confident readers and begin to develop their own opinions about nonfiction books, encourage them to select their own titles, just as adult book club members would. You can introduce them to popular book review sources and invite them to help you make decisions about which nonfiction titles you purchase.

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