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Starting a Book Group

There is no right or wrong way to start a book club. Below are some steps to help you get started.
  1. Choose the kind of book group you would like to start.
    • Family
    • Neighborhood
    • School or classroom
    • After school program
    • Summer program
  2. Decide how many people you want to have in your group. Much of this decision depends on space, the number of copies of the book you have and how many facilitators you will have.
  3. Decide on a place and time to hold your group. Consider how often you would like your group to meet.
  4. Announce your first meeting by sending invitations, posting flyers, sending emails or making announcements.
  5. At you first meeting:
    • Make introductions
    • Choose the book the group will read
    • Decide on the structure of the meetings and how the group will discuss the book
    • Set rules and courtesies for discussion
      Examples: How will the group handle someone who has not read the book? How will the group handle someone who reads ahead of the assigned portion?
    • For any duties (example: contacting members, room set-up/clean up, snacks, etc.), decide which member(s) will do which tasks
    • Get contact information, so members can be contacted with book/group news
  6. Decide how the group will obtain multiple copies of books. Check with your school library, local library and bookstores. Provide members with a small note pad or a pad of sticky notes to mark notes or things they want to discuss. If there are any cultural, historical, social, political, etc. items the readers need to know to comprehend the book be sure to discuss it before starting the book.
  7. At the end of each meeting, decide on the next book or section of a book to be read for the next meeting. Decide when and where the next book group meeting will be.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to how you want to discuss the book. Here are some fun ideas to get you started.
  • Dramatic monologue – look at a monologue from one of the characters in the book. What are they feeling or thinking at the moment? Why are they feeling or thinking this way?
  • Roundtable discussion – readers discuss what fascinates, bothers or confuses them about the book.
  • Fishbowl – 2-4 members sit in the middle of the circle and talk about the book. The rest of the group observes the conversation and takes turns rotating into the circle to add to and continue the discussion.
  • Time travel – what would it be like it your book group members travel back in the time of the story?
  • Talk show – have one member be the host and several other members play the roles of some of the characters in the book. The host asks questions and leads discussion with the "characters" about what happened in the book.
  • Speculate – if the group is only reading a certain number of pages or chapters before each meeting, speculate on what will happen as you read the upcoming sections. At the end of the book, see which member's speculation was correct.
  • Before and after – discuss how situations were at the beginning of the book before the action takes place and then at the end of the book after the action takes place.
  • What if – discuss what a character would be like if they differed from what they were in the book (example: different occupation, different personality, different gender, age, etc.)
  • Why – discuss why an author created a character to be a certain way, have a certain personality, occupation, gender, etc.
  • Decisions, decisions – Discuss what the book would have been like if the character had made a different decision than what really happened.
  • Questions – have everyone in the group bring a discussion question, written on a piece of paper. Put all the papers in a hat and draw questions one at a time. Discuss answers to the question and then pull another from the hat.
  • Books on tape/CD/online – try bringing in an audio copy of the book for the group to listen to a chapter or two together.

Have fun reading!