Running a book club: Creating a hook

Published on: 07 December 2023

An illustration of a book wrapped in ribbon

When I started my club, my school was not in a great place, languishing in the doldrums of special measures. I wanted to bring some fun into school - a café culture vibe where we could enjoy talking about books in a relaxed atmosphere.

I first gave the club a name (The Mad Hatters) and then sent out printed invitations from the Hatter to my target children. The invitations promised cake and also a bit of talk about books. The children were invited to bring a novelty hat to each meeting.

Children wearing hats and reading

I found a cosy corner and, although not essential, brought in big cushions and bean bags. Book club shouldn't feel like a lesson. Part of its success is in its perceived difference. One secondary colleague recently shared the success of moving reading outside in the summer; how the children opened up in a way they didn't in the classroom. Other classes soon followed suit after pressure from the students!

With my setting prepared, I wrapped the book we were to read and we played pass the parcel at the first meeting. This is something I still do with every new book. The reasons are obvious but the impact no less tangible. Who doesn't like a present? The fact that this is a present to the group helps create the group's identity.

In my experience, creating this identity is a key feature in the club's success. In my school, by the time the children reach Year 5 and 6, they all know about the club and most want to join.