Everything You Need to Start a Book Club With Youth

Want a way to build community, increase literacy, promote deep thinking, and have fun?

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Running a book club at your Club is what you are looking for! Book clubs are structured opportunities for a group to read a book together and then learn from related discussion or activities, and they have numerous benefits, including

  • Opportunities to make friends and build deeper connections between individuals
  • Developing youths’ ability to share ideas and opinions in a diverse environment
  • Improves academic skills like critical thinking, reading fluency and comprehension
  • Inspires a love of learning
  • Allows us to laugh and have fun together

Book clubs in an afterschool program are especially rad because we don’t have to stick to “school” reading lists. While staff must always ensure that books chosen are both content and age-appropriate, we can explore genres that may be overlooked by schools like fantasy or mystery, books that have been published recently, or even varying formats like comics or graphic novels. It’s a great chance to get youth who may not think they like to read exposed to the wide variety of books out there and to give them meaningful choice.

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The updated Power Hour program curriculum is coming later this Fall, and among all of the other great content, there is a whole unit on running book clubs! The even better news is that we don’t want to wait to get this info to you, so we’ve made the draft copy available for download NOW! Please do note: it is a draft, so it is not our fully designed version and you may see placeholder text or errors. When the final version is published, we’ll update the link here and announce it over on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page. But within these pages you’ll find information on how to introduce book clubs and facilitate a session for youth to choose a book, leading discussions about what they’ve read with activity ideas, and ways to celebrate. Download it here now!

One of the first questions you may have about starting a book club is what books should we choose from? One fun idea is to theme book choices to monthly celebrations or seasons. That can help you narrow down the list while still giving youth choice. And of course we aren’t going to leave you hanging on this one either.

Each year from September 15 – October 15 is Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month, when we celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans past and present. Did you know that about a quarter of members at Boys & Girls Clubs identify as Latino? We are celebrating at the BGCA National office with a book club for our staff, and immediately thought it would also make a great theme for a book club for youth!

BGCA’s Irma Velasco-Nuñez put together a suggested book list that includes ideas for book clubs for upper elementary, middle school, young adult selections for teens, and even picture books for read-alouds for your youngest youth. Download the list here!

For more ways to celebrate Hispanic & Latino Heritage Month, check out this list from our partner Music & Youth, and this one from our friends on BGCA.org.

I personally have enjoyed book clubs I’ve participated in, whether at work or with friends, and know it will also be a really powerful experience for youth. They really are such a great way to connect on deeper levels with others, which is a point of opportunity for us at Boys & Girls Clubs. Happy reading!

Have you run a book club for youth? Does your Club offer other club-within-the-Club opportunities? We want to hear! Contact us by commenting below, on the BGCA Youth Development Facebook page, or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org.

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