Tween Book Club Extension Activities

This post is so long overdue! I’ve written once about the Tween Book Club I run at my library, but I really should take more time to share the books and activities we do each month. I’ve got a solid group of 12 kids who show up to every meeting, and we’ve been having a great time.  I think I’ll make this a blog series and write up posts on icebreaker activities, how to encourage discussion, and places you can find other resources.  For now, I thought for  I’d share some quick and easy meeting ideas.

The first 20-25 minutes of each meeting is the same. We do an icebreaker activity and then we discuss the book.  I will write more about each of these activities in my future posts, I promise!

For the second half of the book club, we do some sort of extension activity that is thematically related to the book. I try to vary the type of activity because the tweens all have their own personalities and preferences, and I also aim for fun and laid back options.  Here’s a list of the books we’ve read and the matching extension activities.

jinx sage blackwoodJinx by Sage Blackwood
We did two activities for this book.  First, because there is lots of magic in the story, I showed the kids three different card tricks and they had to work together to see if they could solve them.  Then two kids demonstrated card tricks of their own.  Secondly, we did a window decorating craft.  I loved the setting of this book, a magical forest called the Urwald.  Using large pieces of black construction paper, we cut out trees and creatures that reminded us of the book. Then we taped them to the library’s windows creating a shadow display. Here’s a Halloween example of what the final result looked like.

amulet Amulet: The Stonekeeper (Book One) by Kazu Kibuishi
As I was reading this book I kept thinking about the theme, “Things aren’t always what they seem.” So for our first activity I printed off a bunch of funny pictures (the ones I chose were all tween appropriate), and had the kids discuss what was really happening. Much laughter ensued and this led us back to talking about the book. Next, we played an Amulet themed version of “Would You Rather?” I had about 10 pre-written scenarios, and the kids each wrote down two of their own. Again, lots and lots of giggles.

word nerdWord Nerd by Susin Nielsen
This book takes place in Vancouver so I knew I wanted to do something about neighbourhoods and maps. I printed some maps of the Kitsilano and Granville Island areas and we marked off the places that Ambrose visits. And then of course we played a team round of Scrabble which the kids loved so much they asked me if we could play it every month!

rules Rules by Cynthia Lord
We talked a lot about autism and disabilities during the discussion part of our meeting today, so for the activity I brought out Pictionary. A character named Jason in the book communicates via picture cards, and I thought this game would be an interesting way for the kids to see what that would be like.

better nate than everBetter Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
I have a pretty outgoing group of kids so I knew I could get away with doing a bunch of theatre games.  The main character, a kid named Nate, tries out for the Broadway musical version of E.T. and he’s asked to show off a special skill. So we started from there! After that I pulled 4-5 games from different online resources I found and we all channeled our inner Nate.  This works even better if you can scrounge up some props for the kids to use.

Ttom gateshe Brilliant World of Tom Gates by Liz Pichon
This book takes place in England, so the characters say lots of British sayings that my tweens were unfamiliar with. Thankfully, the author includes a glossary at the end with definitions of the words.  I created a quiz based on her list and the tweens tried to remember what each word or phrase meant. The tween with the most correct answers won a free book. Usually I try to stay away from “school-like” activities, but this was more of a contest and the kids loved the competition aspect.  Next, I found this fun drawing activity on the author’s Tom Gates blog: grab some bananas and some pens! I took pictures of their drawings and hung them up in our meeting room.

BoneBone: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith
If you hadn’t already noticed, my tweens are obsessed with graphic novels.  For our first activity, I printed out pictures of every single character in the book and hung them up around the room. Then I gave kids about 5 minutes to go around and write down one word that best describes each character next to their picture. We had a lot of fun with this activity and I had each tween present one of the characters when we were done.  Next we spent time trying to create our own graphic novel panels.  I knew some of the kids would struggle with a blank slate, so I brought out lots of magazines and discarded books. Anyone who didn’t want to draw their own could cut out pictures and assemble them instead.

zita the spacegirlSpace Adventure Graphic Novels
I tried something different this month and pulled three different graphic novels/manga that take place in space or on another planet. They are Zita the Spacegirl by Bet Hatke, Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman and Twin Spica by Kou Yaginuma.  I hadn’t done a craft activity in awhile so I collected a bunch of small cardboard boxes and we made these alien creatures and placed them on top of the science section in the juvenile non-fiction collection.  Any time our activity leads to decorating the library in some way, the kids get really into it!

So that’s what I’ve been up to in my Tween Book Club.  Do you run a Tween Book Club? I’d love to hear about the books you read and the activities you do at your meetings!

16 thoughts on “Tween Book Club Extension Activities

  1. Lindsey – Thanks so much for the great ideas! I’m always looking for new books to discuss and activities to try. We’re going to do “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” in the fall with a book discussion/scavenger hunt/author Skype chat – I’m really looking forward to it!

    1. I can’t wait to do that book! We just ordered a set and I’m waiting for it to be cataloged. I’d love to see the scavenger hunt idea if you can share it 🙂

      1. Mr. Lemoncello was a top pick for our group last year. I used the clues from the author’s website and changed them in to a scavenger hunt. The kids had so much fun, and wanted to spend the night at the library!

  2. I would so love to start a tween book club. When you started, was it entirely on you, or had tweens requested it? How long do you think it took to become successful? What are some good “get started” tips? (Also, I LOVE Ready, Set, Nate! Have you read the sequel yet? As a theatre geek myself, I just loved everything about it.)

    1. Hi Heather! When I started in my position it the group was already going though there were only 3-4 kids who showed up. Now I’ve got a consistent group of 12. That took me about 6 months to build. Some of the strategies I used were telling kids to bring a friend – that doubled the attendance right there. I also heavily promoted it when I visited the schools to do booktalks. If you can do a demo activity or show them a sample craft from a meeting I think that helps grab their attention and might also attract the kids who are intimidated by the idea of a book club. Another tip is finding the right time for your community – Saturday afternoons work very well with my tweens whereas at other branches the after school time works better. Maybe just track when you see tweens in the library for a few weeks to get a feel? Lastly, I think it important to emphasize the fun part of the book club. If kids have fun they will want to come back and bring others, so a lot of the success has been word of mouth. I hope these help – I’ll be putting together more resources in my future posts in this series. And no, I haven’t had a chance to read the sequel yet – better get on that!

    2. I started a book club at my library 5 years ago. We had no tweens here so I picked a day brought my 3 sons and 1 friend and got started. That first year it was them and 1 other person a month that was never the same. lol. The next year I had 18 show up the first month, but only 7 that stuck with it consistently. I went to our schools open house, which is where I picked up the 18. Originally I advertised it as an AR Club, which our school required kids to earn so many points for. This appealed to the parents that had kids struggling to get their goals, but not the kids who didn’t want to be reading anyway. Which is why they didn’t last. I changed the name to Reading Rangers, pushed the extension activity part instead of the reading part and got kids that didn’t like to read to at least finish the book so they could participate in the games. My numbers have slowly risen over the years and I average about 12. Considering we are in a rural area with very uninvolved parents, I am pretty happy.

      Suggestions for getting started:
      Good name – had other programs that didnt work until I changed the name
      Keep books at a consistent reading level.
      Extension activities are a must. Although we’ve had some great discussions, the kids still want to have fun
      Feed them – even a small snack keeps them happy
      Do you have other programs – As kids age out of younger programs, I invite them to move to this one.
      Good luck, I have a blast with these kids!

      1. Thanks so much for sharing, Dana! Your ideas are fabulous!

  3. Glad I found this today! Was looking for titles for my next year and love that you also listed your activities. It’s so much easier when you have a basic idea on what to do with the book.

    1. I agree – picking the books is the easy part for me. It’s the actual activities that I’m always looking for help with.

  4. Hi, I’m the Youth Services Librarian at the Bolivar Harpers Ferry Public Library in Harpers Ferry, WV. I am new to this position and wanted to let you know that your site has been a wealth of information for me, thank you.

    Part of my job is to organize and facilitate our Youth Book Club. For our 1st meeting I pulled about 20 books and had the kids choose their top 5; then we set our reading list. In addition to books I had the kids choose themes.

    We had a cookbook theme last month. It was interesting because many of the kids had never opened a cookbook and didn’t realized their was so much to read. They also had never considered that a recipe/cookbook still has an author. Everyone chose a recipe and we had a tasting. It was a great success.

    This month we’re featuring Biographies. I gave the kids an “All About Me” poster, they will fill out everything except the name and photograph. We’ll hang them up and see if everyone can guess the featured person.

    I can’t wait to try the Literary Snowball, my kids will love that!

    1. Hi Crissy, thank you so much for your comment! I love your idea about incorporating non-fiction books like cookbooks into book clubs. I had a similar thought about some high interest science books that I recently reviewed. I’m totally stealing your ideas too!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing this program
    I have some questions:
    Do you need to have many copies at the library of the same book to start a teen book club ?
    What ages are good to read the suggested titles?
    Do the participants read all book at home and at the end is held the activity, or do you set reading goals by chapters?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Lariza, these activities are for tweens ages 9-12. At my library we do have special book club sets for each of these titles so that each tween gets a copy to take home and read. Another idea is to choose a theme like “action and adventure” and have each tween choose a book from that genre. That way you wouldn’t need a lot of copies of the same book. Yes, the kids read the book at home and we spend our meetings discussing the book and doing the activities. If it’s a really long book we may split the book into two meetings so the kids read the first half of the book for meeting #1 and the second half for meeting #2. But otherwise we don’t set any reading goals; they can read at their own pace. Hope this helps!

  6. Are you still doing this book club? I am starting a new book club and would be interested in seeing your more recent book picks and activities.

    1. Hi Allie, I am not currently doing this book club. I am doing an Early Readers Book Club which is aimed at kids in Grades K – 2. Writing about both of these book clubs is definitely on my to-do list this fall!

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