By Kitty Felde 

When I was growing up, I often heard the phrase from Fr. Patrick Peyton, “The family that prays together stays together.” At the National Council of Teachers of English conference, I was reminded of that mantra when I heard about Family Book Clubs.

Family Book Clubs are similar to a grownup book club – minus the alcohol. 

Kids and their parents read the same book. Families can read separately, take turns reading a chapter aloud, or you can read to your child at bedtime. 

Once a month, set aside 45 minutes to discuss the novel. Find a quiet place with few distractions. Phones off. 

Feed the kids. Get that blood sugar going. It could be donuts and juice on a Saturday morning, or an afterschool gabfest over pizza. 

Make it fun: kids can create book-themed decorations. Adults can create a fun quiz to kick things off. 

Start with the book – what was it about? What did you like/dislike about it? Which character did you most identify with? What confused you?

Give your Family Book Club permission to veer off on a tangent. This happens all the time on the Book Club for Kids podcast. Those left turns are where the conversation goes deep. You’ll be amazed at the topics that crop up, inspired by one tiny thing in that book.

Shannon Brandt, an instructional coach for Auburn City Schools, says parents in particular love the program. “It’s like bringing back their bonding time,” she says, “the days when they would crawl into bed with their kids and read aloud.” Shannon says one parent confessed she was “heartbroken” when her kids outgrew the bedtime ritual and wanted to read on their own. Now, she says, the family has a shared experience again, rekindling the bonding she had missed.

And if you need book suggestions, check out the “Books We Love” page at bookclubforkids.org.

Kitty Felde is host of the Book Club for Kids podcast and author of The Fina Mendoza Mysteries series of books and podcasts. Her latest is State of the Union.

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