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How to Start a Family Book Club

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We’re probably all aware of the benefits of reading aloud to children, but did you know that studies have been done about how parents, families, and even society at large benefit from families reading together?

A study by Kent State University revealed that family literacy results in improved reading and writing skills, greater math and science knowledge, and even increased social awareness and advocacy for parents.

It went on to show that families who read together become emotionally closer and build a foundation for lifelong learning. The study further states that society benefits include a positive impact on health and nutrition, high school drop-out rates, and home and community violence.

I’ve read aloud to my children since before they were born. (Yep, I was that mama reading to her pregnant belly). Even though they’re all teens now, we still do family read-alouds. However, the number of books that I’d love for us to enjoy together is far greater than the number of hours in my day for reading aloud.

I’ve come up with a solution I’m going to implement this year – a family book club!

Benefits of and tips for starting a family book club

The idea is just the same as any other book club except that we can discuss the book together as we go along, rather than waiting until a once-a-month meeting. We’ll just have to make sure everyone keeps up so there are no spoilers!

Where to find multiple copies of the same book without breaking the bank

I’ve come up with a few options for getting everyone a copy of each book we’ll read.

The library. The library is an obvious choice for a free source of reading material. If each family member has his or her own card, it shouldn’t be an issue to check out individual copies, unless the guilt of one family hogging multiple copies of the same book factors in. And, of course, depending on how long your library lets you keep books and how diligent you are about returning them or renewing your loan, this may or may not wind up being a free option.

The used book store. For us, a better option is our local used bookstore, where we can usually pick up reasonably-priced books and multiple copies without breaking the bank.

Amazon. I’ll admit it – I’m really bad about just wanting my own copy of a book without traipsing off to the used bookstore. With an Amazon Prime membership, it’s often more temptation than I can bear just to let the UPS man bring copies of books to our door. If you can find the mass market paperback edition, they’re relatively inexpensive.

Electronic copies. You can often find the Kindle version of a book at a greatly discounted rate, if not free. I have the Kindle app on my desktop and my iPad, so it would be easy for at least two of us to share a book that way.

Also, if you have a child with a print disability, such as dyslexia, Learning Ally is an option. Because Josh has been diagnosed with dyslexia, our Learning Ally membership will allow him to download free audio books to his library. The membership is only for the person with the print disability, so the rest of us will still need our own copy, but that will be one less book to purchase.

Sharing. We have also been known to share books. While not ideal, since you have to coordinate reading times, this is an option. You can either read a certain number of pages each day or everyone can have their own bookmarks.

The benefits of reading together as a family

In addition to the benefits of reading a book together as a family that I already mentioned, it’s just fun to have someone to share a story with. You can laugh at the funny parts and cry over the sad parts with someone who knows what you’re talking about.

I am sometimes guilty of explaining the entire storyline of a book just so I can share a funny moment with someone who isn’t reading it. Think how much easier that would be if you’re talking to someone who’s reading along with you!

homeschool family book club

Not only that, but I love that reading books together will make for some great family dinner table discussions. That will be helpful for making sure that everyone is comprehending the storyline okay, but also, I have discovered that teens have some amazing insight. They often help me to see something in a completely different light than I would have otherwise.

As other homeschooling parents can probably relate, I am sometimes guilty of turning everything into an educational moment.  I want our family book club to just be an opportunity to share good stories together and create some family memories – including our own family language. (Brianna and I did this when we both read the Twilight books.)

I want to include a good mix of classics, popular fiction/modern lit, and books made into movies. Besides dinner table discussions, I really don’t want to get into a bunch of extra activities with the family book club books. However, as often as possible, I do want to include a family movie night for watching film adaptations of some of the books we read. Post-movie discussions may include:

  • Which did you like better, the book or the movie?
  • Why do you think the screenplay writers chose to make the changes they did? (Because there are always changes.)
  • Did the characters look like you had them pictured?
  • What are some things from the book that you were really hoping would be in the movie, but weren’t?

At this point, I don’t think the kids are as excited about this as I am, but I think they’ll get on board when they see I’m not going to turn it into more school, but rather, a way for us to connect as a family.

Have you ever done anything like this with your family? How did it go? What suggestions would you offer?

top image courtesy of pixabay

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. The first book/movie I thought of was Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. I loved that movie as a teenager. 🙂
    To Kill A Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye… hmm can’t seem to think of anything right now.
    But great idea! I love the family bonding — I will have to remember to start a family book club down the road when my little ones get older.

  2. I love this idea. My wife and I already read together and we’re looking to do this same thjng with our little one (due in April.) I’m not sure how well the book/movie discussions will go lol there are a few that I hated so much I won’t ever watch them again (Eragon for one.) However, as a side project, maybe writing our own screen play of some of the books we read might be fun. Even if the movie has already been done it would lend room for the child’s own personal vision of the book to shine through.

    1. Yes, my oldest is one who is rarely pleased with the screen adaptation. I thought The Hunger Games was one that was as true to the book as I’d seen in awhile. She thought they completely ruined it. 🙂

  3. I have wanted to do this for ages but haven’t found a book I think they would all like; ages from 22 to 12 years with very definite opinions! You have inspired me to look harder!
    We have had a family movie night for a while now my daughter has film as one of her majors at uni. She tells us really interesting things about the film the time it was set in or something about the production – so wonderful!

  4. “The Princess Bride” would make a great one to read and discuss, and the film version is fantastic. I heard about a group of homeschooling families who did this together and had a themed meal together when discussing the book. I think having themed food would be a fun element to add, even if just done as a family. I like the idea of doing this just as a family unit, rather than trying to coordinate with others. The coordination factor is why we don’t have a book club going already. Thanks for the nudge!

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