A big topic at the National Council of Teachers of English convention was Family Book Clubs.
The program is voluntary. Kids and their parents read the book of the month and join other families at their child's school or public library to discuss the novel. The actual meeting is short by book club standards: at Auburn's elementary school, groups meet for half an hour either at 7 AM for doughnuts and juice and book talk, or at a noontime gabfest over pizza. Middle schoolers and their folks meet at the Auburn public library in the early evening hours. There are often book themed decorations and a fun quiz to kick things off.
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.
It's not just the parents who enjoy the shared reading experience. According to Scholastic's biannual Kids & Family Reading Report, 80% of tweens and teens admit that they still like being read to by an adult.
The Auburn groups are multi-generational. One grandmother attends book clubs with all three of her grandchildren. And no one is left out: kids without a parent can bring a teacher.
Do you have a Family Book Club at your school or library? Tell us about it!