When quarantining became a reality for many of us in March, we were both looking for activities that would help keep our kids busy but also interacting with other kids. Ricki then came up with the idea of doing virtual book clubs, and Kellee was all in!
Trent & Henry’s Two Book Clubs
- Trent and Henry, Ricki’s oldest, both were really interested in reading the Bad Guys books, so we started a chat with just the two of them. This is the first virtual book club that both kids had been in and was a great way to help them understand how to discuss books with a peer. So far they have read four of the Bad Guy books and have had a blast discussing everything from illustrations, to motive, and predictions.
- As of this week, we are going to pause on the Bad Guys books and are moving ahead with some partner reading with some of the boys’ favorite picture books!
- Ricki put out a call on Facebook for anyone interested in doing a Kindergarten-ish book club, and many jumped in! The kids range from age 4 to 9, and we find the mixed age group is really working! The club voted on the first book to read, and we started with Sideways Story from Wayside School by Louis Sachar and then we moved to Unicorn Rescue Society: The Creature of the Pines by Adam Gidwitz.
Trent’s Other Book Club
- Trent also is part of a book club with one of Kellee’s colleague’s daughters. With this book club, Trent and Gabby started with picture books (The Hat Trilogy by Jon Klassen, The Questioneers by Andrea Beaty & David Roberts, and Lights! Camera! Alice! by Mara Rockliff). Next up are the Questioneers chapter books.
Ben’s Book Club
- Ricki’s three-year-old Ben is also in a book club using Juana Medina’s Juana & Lucas. Admittedly, this book club has been trickier because the kids are ages 3 to 4. They have had great questions like, “Do you like to chew gum, too?” and are connecting with the book, but their attention span usually lasts between 5 to 10 minutes. They are also incredibly shy and have difficulty volunteering questions. Either way, it is still great to see the kids connect with each other.
For the larger club, Ricki sets up a Zoom meeting and leads the meeting. She ensures everyone gets to ask their questions and that everyone’s voice is heard.
The questions that kids come up with, even at age 6, are intuitive and deep!
- Bad Guys #1: Why do you think the kitty doesn’t talk but the other animals do?
- Bad Guys #1: Why do you think those words on page 7 look like that?
- Bad Guys #2: Do you think they would have made it without Legs helpiing them?
- Bad Guys #3: Why did they think the ninja was a boy (she is a girl!)?
- Wayside: Do you think it’s fair that Todd always gets in trouble?
- Wayside: Joy’s name sounds like she should be good, but she keeps calling people dumb and stupid which isn’t good. Do you like her?
- Unicorn: Why do you think Professor Fauna is hunting the unicorns?
- Unicorn: Do you think the animal got tangled in the ribbon because it was a trap, or do you think it was something else?
- Unicorn: Do you think Professor knows about the animal Elliot and Uchenna found? Do you think they will see it again?
With Trent’s book club with Kellee’s colleague, she used the teaching guides to drive the conversation (Hat Trilogy, Questioneers, Lights! Camera! Alice!), and she found that teaching guides are perfect for this as well. And their insight was wonderful!
With the smaller clubs, we use FaceTime. We’re still there while they are chatting, but it is easier for the two to chat back and forth.
Usually the club meeting lasts 20-30 minutes which is about how long they can stay on topic and discuss a book, but we think that is pretty great for kindergarten-ish kids.
We always end with “friend questions.” Kids are invited to ask their (new) friends questions about their lives. They tend to ask each other about their favorites (foods, colors, movies, books, sports teams, universities).
The book clubs have been such a highlight for our kids. They look forward to it each week! They love sharing the reading experience with others, specifically now when interaction with other kids is so limited.
An unexpected highlight: they’ve made some good friends. Henry and Trent have never chatted for more than a minute or two and last saw each other when they were babies, so it has been wonderful to see them bond these last few weeks!
We highly recommend virtual book clubs! Let us know if your kids have taken part in any virtual clubs!