Do you have a library book club ready to break out of a reading rut and expand their horizons? Would you like to attract and engage new patrons with a different kind of book club? The California State Library and the California Center for the Book have put together a toolkit for a Book-to-Action book club model. Using this model, patrons read a book and discuss it, and then go into the community “to put their new-found knowledge into action by engaging in a community service project related to the book’s topic.”
The toolkit provides the following recommendations for choosing a book:
- Books should be highly readable and engaging for a general audience, preferably no longer than 350 pages in length.
- Preferably published within the last 3-5 years and available in trade paperback (though hardcovers will be considered; eBook, audio, and Spanish translation formats a plus).
- Subject should address a relevant social issue, without being highly controversial or divisive.
- Book should be readily matched to local civic organizations doing work in a variety of non-profit and civic-service focused areas, or a community-building activity.
- Nonfiction titles will lend themselves to this kind of series if they are inspiring and thought-provoking rather than “how-to” in nature. Fiction will also be considered.
- [Local] authors are a plus as are authors or subject experts available for appearances at a reasonable cost.
The toolkit even provids a list of recommended books and civic engagement activities, organized by age groups. This book club model can be tailored for kids or adults. Topics include: Cooperation, Compassion, and the Power of Giving; Crossing Cultural Boundaries; Immigrants and Refugees; Homelessness, Poverty, Hunger; Humanitarian Aid, International Relief, and Microcredit; Animals; Environment; Sowing Seeds, Urban Farming, and Healthy Eating; Health and Aging; Local Economies; Women’s Rights and Empowerment of Girls; LGBTQ, Marriage Equality, and Anti-Bullying; Civil Rights and Modern Slavery; Inspiring Ideas. With all these choices, there’s bound to be something relevant to your town!
The toolkit walks you through 15 steps to help guide you through planning your book club. It also includes logos and bookmarks, as well as press release templates and a brochure you can edit to promote your program.
Have you tried a book club model that goes beyond reading and discussion? How did your community respond? Share your stories in the comments!