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Programming: Book Clubs


Book clubs are an exciting way to bring together readers across your community. Whether your patrons read on a device, a physical book, or audiobook, they're sure to enjoy the opportunity to talk with other book enthusiasts. Children's and teen book clubs are also a great way to engage the youth at your library as it creates a sense of ownership of their reading choices. Read on to learn more about the different possibilities for your book clubs.

Book Club Types

Traditional Book Club:

In traditional book clubs, participants all read the same book and discuss it at the next meeting. This type of book club works well in larger systems where programs either have the funding to purchase books for members or an ILL system capacity to lend the materials out to every participant.

One of the challenges of a traditional book club is finding books that most of your readers will enjoy. Especially at the beginning, it’s important to talk to your readers about what genres and types of books they want. Consider crafting a ballot with 6 options and having everyone vote for their top three. Select the next 3 months’ books based on the tallied votes.

When choosing books, remember that some books are easier to discuss in a group than others. To encourage a more productive discussion, consider choosing character-driven novels with unique plot elements. Let students lead the discussion by focusing on what elements they think are interesting and relevant to their lives.

Genre Book Club:

A genre book club has participants read different books but all of the books are from the same genre. The book club may have a different genre every month (fantasy, nonfiction, graphic novel, mystery, etc.) or maintain the same genre for the duration of the club (a mystery lover’s book club or science fiction book club, for example). You can take this to the next level by choosing a theme rather than a genre such as travel, biographies, or non-fiction. Then, during the meeting, each member talks about the book that they read/are currently reading.

This book club format allows participants to read at their own pace and reading level and still be able to discuss books with their peers. As each member takes a turn talking about their book (often either recommending it to others or telling them to steer clear), they should try to avoid spoiling major plot-twists.

Book Lovers Club:

Come one, come all to a book lovers club. All participants are welcome to come to this book club. This simple club is more of a gathering for book enthusiasts to talk about what they’re currently reading and share recommendations. Discussions tend to be less structured in this type of book club, but this is a great club-style to keep all participants engaged.

Cookbook Club:

Book clubs often involve snacks anyway, so why not try making food the focus of your club? Emphasize your cookbook collection, learn new cooking skills, and have a selection of tasty treats at the end! Pick a theme or let members pursue their interests. A kitchen at the library is not required; everyone cooks at home and brings the end results to share.

Book to Movie Club:

Try reading a book that has been turned into a movie. Then you can watch the movie and discuss the differences. You can use books that have already become movies, or you can get a jump on books that will soon be turned into movies. If you are trying to incorporate more non-fiction choices into your book club, a book-to-movie club is a great option

There are many other clubs that you can consider starting at your library such as a yard club (knitting, crochet, etc.), craft club, coloring club, LEGO club, coding club, and so much more!

Resources for All Ages

Tips and Tricks:

  • Make sure participants know that it’s OK to not like or finish a book; encourage them to come to the book club anyways to share their opinions.
  • Combine forces with other librarians, local book store owners, and Library Media Specialists at the middle and high school levels to find interested individuals.
  • Look for other locations to host your book clubs such as a nearby park shelter or restaurant.
  • Remember that not all of your books need to be brand new. These are often expensive or have long waiting lists at the library. Choose books that are a few years older so that if you purchase them, they are more than likely available in paperback and if you request or ILL them, they probably won’t have a waiting list.
  • Give your participants buy-in by letting them vote for future titles or submit requests.

Teen Book Clubs

Are you looking to start a book club for teens at your library? A teen book club can be challenging in the beginning but will be rewarding once it is started. New teen programs may need to wait until there is an established group of teens that regularly attend programs or a Teen Advisory Group before they start a book club. This ensures that there will be active, regular participation.

Easy Discussion Questions

1. What did you like best/least about this book?

2. What characters did you like/dislike the most?

3. Would you read another book by this author?

4. Did you think the book was too long or short? What important elements were missing? What parts would you have cut out?

5. What do you think of the book’s title and cover? Do they do a good job conveying what the book is about or were they misleading?

6. Is this book or storyline unique?

7. Did the characters and world seem believable or realistic?

8. How did you feel about the ending? Did it wrap everything up or leave you hanging? Are you satisfied with the ending?

9. Did the book make you think about anything differently?

10. Would this book make a good movie? Why or why not?

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Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.