Running a book club: Choosing the books

Published on: 07 December 2023

An illustration of an open book and a pile of books

It is a good idea to pick at least some of the books for the whole year ahead of time to ensure variety and range for your group. Book groups are a great way to introduce different genres and types of book, so you want to ensure breadth. Leaving flexibility for one title is also a good idea for that just-been-published, next-classic book.

The BookTrust, RT=RP and CLPE lists are a good place to start if you feel less confident choosing. These lists are often the result of expert panel selections which means different people have brought their ideas and experience to bear, helping you to get a range of genres and styles.

That said, I have also simply placed five books on the table and let the group choose.

This helps develop the children's sense of ownership in the group. A word of warning, though: do read the books first. We have found age categorisations are not always a guarantee of appropriateness for the children in our school and the last thing you want to do is pull a book once the children are hooked.

Children wearing hats and reading

One further point is to persevere with a book.

It is seldom you will choose a book everyone likes and it is an extremely valuable lesson for those who don't like a title to be able to explain why.

Also, think about the length of the books you choose.

Immersion in whole texts is important; not finishing a book is frustrating, especially if it is being enjoyed. I am lucky with my group that the children will often have a copy; copies are bought by my school or I borrow sets from the local library service (a big money saver).

This allows me to ask the children to read ahead before the next session, to do a catch-up at the start of a session and then read on. In this way, we sometimes read long novels. If you know the bulk of the reading is going to happen in the club meeting, choose shorter books, especially in the Easter term.

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