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 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: 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.
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 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.
The 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.
Bone: 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.
Space 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!