What is a Book Group?
A Book Group is a gathering of individuals (usually 4 to 8 people) who share a common interest in reading. They meet regularly (usually monthly), all having read the same book, to analyse the book and discuss their personal opinions and thoughts.
Check with your local library or school, they may have a group organised or be able to put you in touch with any groups or other interested children in the area. You may be a group of friends who just need a little encouragement to get started.
How many members?
4 to a maximum of 8 is the usual number. If more than 8 are interested you can
a have more than 8
b close membership at 8, have a waiting list in the event of someone dropping out
C split into 2 groups.
Where to meet?
If you are a group of friends you could arrange to rotate meetings at each other’s houses. Your local library may have a suitable room or area.
When to meet?
Decide on regularity (monthly), mornings or evenings,and time, e.g. first Thursday of every month at 6.30 p.m. Some groups keep to the school year and close for the summer months.
Who is the “boss”?
Groups can be run in different ways, usually informal but with some structure.
a rotate responsibility, person who picked book, or person hosting group in their house
b one person taking responsibility each time
c shared responsibility e.g. someone chairing the meeting, someone purchasing the books.
Exchange phone numbers!
Who picks the book?
Each member of the group gets an opportunity to select a book. To arrange the order, you could draw names from a hat, do it in alphabetical order, seating order or volunteer, whatever works for your group. It’s helpful to have at least 2 books picked ahead of time.
What book to pick?
This is the fun bit, you can select an old favourite, a bestseller, a review you read, a popular author. In choosing the book you must keep in mind how the other members will get their copies. Is it in the bookshops? Are there copies available in the library? Is it still in print? Will it have to be ordered?
Where do we get the book?
This depends on what book is selected.
New books and bestsellers will be available in the bookshops, online or in the library.
Old favourites may have to be ordered so allow time, at least 2 weeks.
Most bookshops will give 10% on orders of multiple copies.
Libraries are very supportive and will often get multiple copies in for you.
Idea !! In small groups the person choosing the book buys the number of copies needed, then each member pays for their copy. This allows great flexibility in choice and saves on time.
How much does the book cost?
You can agree to a cost limit, e.g. under €15. Keep in mind that this will exclude most current hardbacks.
What happens at the book group meeting?
This varies from group to group. It’s a good idea for the person who picked the book to open the discussion by giving their view and reasons for selecting that title. Each member then gets an opportunity to say a short piece. Once everybody has had a chance to speak it can be thrown open for general discussion. It’s good to keep a journal or record of the books read, write in a comment or score out of 10. The journal can also be used for other purposes, recording member’s phone numbers, outings etc.
How do we discuss a book?
Some books provoke lots of discussion whereas other books may be more difficult. Reading guides for some books are available online. Try the publisher’s website, readingroup.com, or Richard&Judy.com. Any research on the book or author will add to the sharing and broadening of knowledge. You can discuss characterisation, plot, language, relationships, ending.
Respect the opinions of others but it’s good to get differing opinions, it adds a bit of spice. Keep the focus on the book, steer clear of drifting on to other books, movies, holidays etc. Ideally you should aim to spend 30 to 45 minutes discussing the book. There’s plenty of time for chatting afterwards. It’s worth doing it right, you’d be surprised at how your much you learn from other people’s opinions and views.
Meeting to discuss a common interest is a great way to make new friends or deepen current friendships. When the discussion on the book has been exhausted you can talk about other topics. Many groups have days out in addition to their monthly meeting, e.g. the cinema.
Some recommended books for kids book groups:
10+ age group
- “Holes” by Louis Sacher
- “Kensuke’s Kingdom” by Michael Morpurgo
- “Laura Delaneys Deadliest Day” by Ann Carroll
11+ age Group
- “Al Capone Does my Shirts” by Gennifer Choldenko
- “Best Friends” by Jacqueline Wilson
- “I am david” by Ann Holm
Good luck and enjoy!
Tara Book Co. are based in Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, Ireland, Visit them online at www.tarabookco.ie or tel: (091) 777005
If you have a book group going, especially with kids involved, please tell us in the comments below, we’d love to know about it!