Storytime can be a valuable tool for parents for a variety of reasons. It introduces their little ones to new books. It helps children interact with other children. And it gets them out of the house. Once the kids reach a certain age, however, they stop attending. One way to keep them in the fold is to offer a variety of book clubs for kids. Mother-daughter, father-son, age specific; there are a variety of options I will touch on in the coming weeks. But today I want to focus on a Classics for Kids book club.
A Classics for Kids book club features classical pieces of literature abridged for appropriate age groups. For example, to introduce The Epic of Gilgamesh to a 9-year-old, a parent-child duo could begin with Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by David Parkins. Or instead of The Iliad, they can both read Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff. When my kids were young, I used The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer as a guide. But your booksellers are experts and can come up with an appropriate reading list for various ages.
The beautiful thing about this type of book club is that by offering different groups for different reading levels, you can base your selections on a calendar schedule and repeat the reading selections each year. Young readers move up a level as new readers join the group, giving the bookstore perpetual sales potential.
You can launch a new session with the beginning of each school year. Or participants can move up to the next level during the summer, as they prepare for a new grade level in school.
Promote a Classics for Kids book club to parents and grandparents, but also to teachers. If they see a student that needs to be challenged, you’re offering them a valuable tool. Teachers can also be a great resource for teaching the book clubs. Especially if they can receive a store discount in return.
Even though the books discussed at book club are classics, be sure to introduce the group members to new books they might enjoy. Take the time to prepare a handout with your list of recommended reading.
Young people who belong to a Classics for Kids book club not only benefit by building a library, but also by building a lifetime of reading.