Friday, November 12, 2010

Boys' book club - not like yours or mine . . .

. . . but at least we have them talking about books!

That's the title of a guest post from Dianne Ledingham, here in the Boston suburbs. This should be of special interest to parents who wonder how the tradition of the mother-daughter book club can be extended to our sons. Here's the rest of the post:

About 18 months ago, a mom in Wellesley floated the idea among 5 women of starting a book club for our 9 year old boys. She had helped to create and coordinate a book club for her elementary school daughter...and it had been a tremendous success. As we discussed the idea, we knew that the architecture of a book club for 9 year old boys was going to be radically different from that of 9 year old girls. We had no illusions of relaxing discussions over a meal or dessert debating a character, the plot, or the relationship dynamics between the age-appropriate characters with our sons.

We hypothesized that there were a few elements that were necessary for at least this group of boys to be excited about the adventure, including:

- finding a group of boys where the dynamic between them would be good

- ensuring that we 'book ended' the time with free play - so the boys could burn off some energy before and after by running around(football, tag, basketball)

- creating activities around the book, not just discussion

- eating: like a pizza dinner or something simple for us...and perhaps a fun dessert

Our genre of books have been pretty diverse...starting with Diary of a Wimpy Kid books initially, some books on sports teams, but more recently migrating to fantasy and fiction including Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid, Cornelia Funke's The Dragon Rider, and Watt Key's Alabama Moon. This month we may revert back to the new Diary book cause some of the recent books have been a little long...but it is fun.

The activities that we create around the book typically include:

--'Trivia Facts': a quiz of sorts with points that have fun facts about the book - some easy, some hard. The mom who hosts will ask a question and sometimes the boys have to write it down, and sometimes they can shout it out. Typically there is a point collection system (and once we integrated it with a basketball shoot out) and "prizes" (e.g. candy, first pick from some small gifts, etc.)

--another craft-like activity: once the boys created advertisements; once they drew dragon paper airplanes and had a contest for flying farthest distance (for The Dragon Rider session); for The Red Pyramid, the boys and moms built pyramids out of sandpaper, for Alabama Moon the boys built homes in the woods out of Lincoln logs....and the list goes on.

--We recently have gotten into a handful of questions and discussion with our now 5th graders on character development in the books etc. It is fun now, and the boys are really starting to engage.

--We have also had some "Book Club Field Trips". Once we went to an Ethiopian restaurant after Harry Potter at Museum of week we will go see the new HP movie.

This ritual of ours, which we do every month or so (excluding Book Club Field Trips) has really become a terrific event that boys and moms alike look forward to. So while it takes a little prep, it is really a fun way to spend an evening!

1 comment:

Jennifer Hoffine said...

This is so cool! And starting them at this age will give you a better chance of keeping it going, or at least keeping them reading when they're older.

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