Long ago, back in the Dark Ages of bookselling when life was more leisurely and bookstores had enough time to provide a plethora of programs for readers, I worked in a bookstore that had a monthly Story Hour for little children. It was successful and a good time was had by all, but then some of our audience outgrew the stories and asked for something more substantial than picture books.
That request grew into a read-aloud hour for school-age listeners, a club for young writers, and a book group for young readers, ranging in age from eight to twelve years old. This cluster of programs became popular with our book store staff as well as with our young customers, and booksellers vied for the chance to facilitate these monthly meetings, with the book group becoming the most popular offering for both the presenters and the participants.
We were lucky. The members of our book group came to us as an off shoot of another well-established program. They were already devoted readers by the time we launched a book group, they were accustomed to coming to our events, and they felt comfortable in the store and with the staff. It was the ideal climate for a flourishing book group.
Ten years later, that climate has changed for everyone. Families maintain much more rigorous schedules than in the past, bookstores have been forced to become more competitive, and more and more children are abandoning the printed word. And yet book groups are more popular than ever in the adult reading world. Certainly they could be for children as well.
Do you belong to a book group? Do your children? Have you begun a book group for children? Do you wish you could but are unsure of how to go about it? Let us know. In addition to providing an online book group where children and adults can discuss books that they love, PaperTigers also would love to provide a spot where experienced book group participants give pointers to those who are beginning to explore the pleasures of reading and chatting with others of like mind.
How did your group begin? What do you read? How do you keep your discussions lively and your meetings well-attended? What advice do you have for people who are beginning their own groups? Please let us know and help us spread the joy of reading.