I don’t know about you, but I am excited to start the new school year! This is the first week back for teachers, and the anticipation of the arrival of the students is felt all over campus. And, of course, we are all eager to try some new things that we learned/read about/studied over the summer. We share our goals and hope that they are not too lofty, and achievable by the time May rolls around and we are panting for summer break once again.
One of my own goals is to reinvigorate our student book club. Started last year, the club has a small core of dedicated students, but we struggled to recruit new members and grow the club. As with all schools, we have a limited population of students and an overabundance of clubs and groups. But, I know that many students read the books and/or wanted to join (they told me so at various times and even via email!). So, I knew that we needed a reboot- Book Club 2.0, if you will. I spent the summer thinking of some ways to encourage students to attend discussions. Here are some ideas:
- Create surveys for book suggestions
- Last year, I picked the books or gave the small group of students attending a few options, and we chose what to read. This year, I will send out a Google Form a few times to gauge interest in certain titles, genres, and events. That way, more students will have more of a say in what we choose and feel more ownership over the group.
- Suggest books with connections to local events or by local authors.
- Whenever we have read a book in conjunction with an author visit or Skype, I am always sure to get more students to attend. We have a wonderful public library system and author lecture series in Pittsburgh, and I need to capitalize on these resources more often. In addition, we have a large literary community with many local authors willing to come in for short visits or to conduct creative writing classes.
- Try the Silent Book Club once during a busy month or at beginning/end of the year.
- NPR recently ran a story on what are being called “Silent Book Clubs.” You can read the full article here. Basically, these are groups of people who gather together in one space, read a book of their choosing silently for a set amount of time, then chat about what they are reading. This would be a great opportunity to allow students a casual space to talk about what books they are reading, without having to feel left out if they didn’t read/finish a chosen text. I will probably hold the silent reading to about 10-15 minutes (due to bus arrivals and sports schedules!) but this would still give us enough time to relax, read, eat, and discuss our current reads.
- Combine forces with another club.
- We have a lot of active clubs on campus, and I know that quite a few would be interested in reading different titles and discussing them as a group. I am going to approach my current book club members about this idea, since many of them are members of a variety of different clubs and will be able to suggest some that they think would offer great collaboration. My hope is that this strategy will allow for more perspectives to be heard in our discussions.
Well, that’s all I have so far, but I’m sure to think of more during the next few days. What have you done to pump up your book club? Please share in the comments!