How To Run A Book Club In Your School: Frequently Asked Questions To Get You Started

1-2 minutes

In this blog, you will learn:

  • The purpose of a book club.
  • How to successfully start and run a school book club.
  • Where the latest Teaching jobs are and how to apply for them.

Are you thinking about starting a book club in your school but don’t know where to start or what good it will do? Book clubs are becoming increasingly popular in schools and can benefit and enhance students' reading skills and love for literature.

In a survey of more than 1.2 million pupils, the 2024 What Kids are Reading Report, revealed there has been a 4.4% decrease in the number of books read by pupils, particularly in secondary schools. 

A school book club could be the kind of encouragement that children need to get them reading while giving them access to different genres.

If you want to start a book club in your school but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. In this guide we answer your burning questions about whether to start a book club in your school and how to make your book club a success.

What is the purpose of a book club?

A book club is a reading group or arrangement whereby groups of people meet to discuss a book they are reading. It is an environment that encourages children to read more, discuss books and literature and express their opinions and observations.

According to the National Literacy Trust, more than 1 in 12 children and young people in the UK aged 5 to 18 do not own a book. For disadvantaged children, school book clubs provide opportunities to access books, improve their reading skills and develop a love for literature.

In a school book club, students of all ages and backgrounds can read together, discover new genres and authors. Book clubs provide great opportunities for students to engage with other people and make new friends with common interests.

Committing to running a book club in your school can be daunting and you might find that you have a lot of questions about how to start. Here are some frequently asked questions about starting a book club in the classroom, with answers to help you get on track.


How to successfully run a book club at school

Frequently asked questions about school book clubs:

  • How often should I run the school book club?
  • Do I need to set some rules and a routine?
  • How do I encourage conversation/discussion?
  • Do I have to read the book?
  • Should I set some activities? How and why?
  • Should I bring snacks?
  • How do I include and inspire children in the book club?

How often should I run the school book club?

It’s up to you and your group how often you meet up for a book club. Whether it’s every week or month, it all depends on availability and convenience. If you want to discuss a book a chapter at a time then you will need to meet more frequently than if you decide to meet only when everyone has read the whole book.

Your decision can be based on reading pace, skills and abilities, while taking into consideration busy periods e.g. Standard Assessment Tests (SATS) and exams and the number of books in your book club.

As long as you provide notice and have a way of communicating with members of the book club, it is up to you how often your book club meets. Some book clubs benefit from having a set routine e.g. meet Mondays 12pm, or the 1st Tuesday of every month etc. 

Regular interactions in the same location is best to keep everyone informed and invested. Keep sessions short and engaging and consider hosting your club in the school library surrounded by books.

Do I need to set some rules and establish a routine?

It is important for Teachers and Teaching Assistants to establish rules and a routine so the book club is fair, efficient and fit for purpose. Your book club can be as formal as you please, but it is important that everyone is aware of your expectations.

Book club doesn’t require the same preparation or planning that a lesson would, but it is still important to plan for what chapters will be discussed and when. Establish rules that are respectful and considerate of other student’s reading level.

Begin the club by recapping the last session and any discoveries or particularly interesting insights. A structure like this can benefit students by reminding them of what they might have missed or forgotten.

It’s important to determine the group's reading abilities and strengths so you can cater the book club to suit everyone's needs. Ensure that every student adheres to the rules such as not rushing or reading ahead, not spoiling events or being rude and disrespectful to others.

How do I encourage conversation/discussion?

Ensure book club members are motivated, inspired and active participants by fostering a safe and welcoming environment. You could split into smaller groups or pairs for discussions to give everyone a chance to share what they’ve learned about the characters, plot and themes. However, it’s important to not force everyone to contribute.

Set minimal and simple book club ‘homework’ so that every student feels prepared for the meeting and is on the same page… literally! Ask students to read a certain chapter and write 3 comments and 2 connections that they discovered about the story or characters, and to prepare 2 questions for the next book club meeting.

This gives students a greater sense of responsibility and encourages lively conversations and communication. Ensure students have the time to read and complete the tasks so they can take part and offer opinions or observations if they want to.

Do I have to read the book beforehand?

It would be ideal for Teachers or Teaching Assistants to read the book that will be discussed before it is approved for the book club to make it easier to discuss and prompt conversations.

Book club doesn’t require much preparation or planning, but it is useful to have read the book beforehand in order to understand any important developments and choose themes to explore.

The book club will run more smoothly if the Teacher or Teaching Assistant in charge can guide the conversation and keep the flow going. It also ensures the book is appropriate for all ages and suits everyone's reading skills. 

Reading the whole book might not be feasible, so ensure you do some research and familiarise yourself with the vocabulary, plot and themes.

Should I do some activities? How and why?

Book club doesn’t just have to be for discussing books. Keep students active and engaged, and switch things up a bit by organising themed sessions or playing games. 

Make book club lively, interactive and inclusive, by encouraging students to dress up or bake cakes based on characters from the current book.

After you’ve successfully finished a book, why not create a fun quiz to test what students have learnt? 

You could also act out a scene, character or book title in a fun game of charades or play clips from the film adaptation of the book or interviews with the author 

Should I bring snacks?

If you can, provide free drinks and snacks e.g. fruit, vegetables and biscuits to keep pupils well fed and nourished. Enjoying snacks is a great way to start the meeting so all members can catch up, recap the last meeting and get excited to talk about books!

If budgets are tight, you could ask the members to alternate in bringing treats to the book club. 

You could go one step further by bringing themed food to book club e.g. if you’re reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, encourage everyone to bring in their favourite chocolate bar. Or if you’re reading The Breakfast Club Adventures, why not enjoy some breakfast themed food?

How do I include and inspire children in the book club?

It is important to include children in the book club as much as possible; give students the opportunity to read aloud, nominate books and get involved!

You could assign roles and responsibilities within the book club or give pupils free rein to choose their own books, discussions and conversations. 

It is likely pupils will read more when they are in a book club, so let them choose their own books to bring about more diversity, a variety of genres and conversations about different authors, cultures and themes.

Teaching jobs

If you’re searching for your next teaching job, why not take a look at the latest teaching vacancies, or simply upload your CV to be notified when a relevant position becomes available.

Speaking of books and reading, discover 7 ways to love your school library and 3 compelling reasons to start a book club in your school.

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We currently work with hundreds of schools and have exclusive access to some of the best Teachers and Teaching Assistants in the North West.

If you’re struggling to fill a teaching vacancy, why not get in touch with one of our team to see how we can help?

Meet Jamie Heath

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