Books clubs are common library programs, but they are usually geared towards adults. However, if you’re looking to expand the services you offer to teens, why not try a book club, since it’s a programming option with which you are already familiar?
If your library doesn’t already have book clubs, ALA has a quick start guide that walks you through the basics: how to structure a meeting, how to choose a book, and how to hold a book discussion, including generic questions for fiction and non-fiction books.
The Hennepin County Library also provides a helpful overview of how to start a book club specifically for kids or teens. They even discussion guides for a number of popular teen books. The Cooperative Children’s Book Center also offers book discussion guidelines.
Teen author Teri Brown shares tips from her experience running a teen book club:
- Someone must remain in charge to keep thing under control
- Potlucks can help teens take ownership of the club
- Reading aloud was a big hit
- Author visits, either in person or via Skype, were popular
If you’re interested in learning more about how to incorporate Skype author visits into your teen book club, Sarah at Green Bean Teen Queen shares how she structures hers. Getting authors to participate is as easy as emailing them and asking! Check the Skype an Author Network for willing authors. It’s also a great way to get teens interested in the writing and publishing process.
Another option is to model your book club as a mock award committee and have them vote for their top choice. YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association, has lots of awards from which you can choose a convenient list of nominated books. Heather Booth writes at Teen Librarian Toolbox about she structures her mock Printz book club.
The Hub has suggestions for teen book club choices by genre:
For a slightly different focus, try a graphic novel book club. Teens may find the quicker read time more manageable for their schedule. The illustrations may also help you attract teens who would shy away from reading a traditional novel.
When discussing any programming for teens, a common theme will emerge regarding what motivates teens to attend. The primary answer is food, so be prepared to offer some snacks.
Other tips for attendance include:
- Meet once a month
- Keep the school schedule in mind – fall is better than spring in terms of extra-curricular commitments
- Meet at the school if transportation is an issue
- Structure it so that teen can still participate if they haven’t read the book
Promotional tips include:
- Recruit your best readers from the Summer Reading program participants
- Partner with the middle school and high school librarians to advertise at the school
- Word of mouth – get teens to recruit other teens to participate
Of course, getting multiple copies of a book can be another challenge. However, the North Dakota State Library recently started offering book club kits which have 10 copies of each book.
Have you tried a teen book club at your library? How did it go? Share your stories in the comments!