We held our first book club meetings for my 3rd grade son and my 6th grade daughter now that fall soccer is over and the kids all have a little more free time. PickyKidPix‘s 6th grade book club met at her friend Caroline’s house and my son hosted his 3rd grade book club at our house a few days later. Both book clubs did the same activity — Book Tasting and Book Swap — but with slightly different results!
6th Grade Book Club for Girls
The 6th grade girls brought two or three books that they read, liked and were willing to loan to their friends. Each talked for a few minutes about her books, trying to “sell” them. PickyKidPix brought Catch Rider which she really liked and knew no one else had read. Her friends take horseback riding lessons at sleepaway summer camp so she thought her horsey friends would enjoy it.
Her second book was a chapter book that I sent her as part of a summer camp care package. I had bought it at a overstock sale and chose it because 1) it was only $2, 2) it was light, 3) it takes place during the summer and 4) it’s set in a hair salon. (PickyKidPix is fascinated with hair styling!) To my surprise, she read it. To her surprise, one of her friends chose it.
Her friends have ventured into young adult territory already I think because they are all strong readers. Still, at age 11 and 12, I would have liked to keep them in Middle Grade land but you just can’t hold kids back from reading what they want to, especially when their friends are devouring these books!
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
PickyKidPix borrowed this historical fiction chapter book set during WWII from her freind Caroline who hosted the book club. It’s about a girl whose father is one of the scientists working on the atomic bomb. We are reading it together and we are both really enjoying it. While it has a science STEM angle, it’s more of a coming of age story. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
PickyKidPix borrowed this book from her friend Devin. Too bad she didn’t realize that I have a copy at home! It’s on my 34 Haunting Holocaust Books for Kids list. Devin’s 8th grade brother is reading it too. [young adult, ages 14 and up]
Catch Rider by Jennifer H. Lyne
PickyKidPix and I both loved Catch Rider, a debut chapter book that reminded us both of One for the Murphys. PickyKidPix likes gritty realistic fiction and this one fits the bill. It made two of my lists: Domestic Violence Books for Kids and Books for Kids Set in Appalachia. [young adult, ages 13 and up]
My Almost Epic Summer by Adele Griffin
I haven’t read this chapter book set in a hair salon yet but I’ll flip through it when it comes back.
Irene’s got big dreams—someday she’ll own a sun-kissed salon in L.A. where her specialty will be recreating the hairstyles of famous literary heroines. And it’s a good thing she has dreams, since reality is harsh. She’s just been fired from her mom’s beauty salon for her tear-jerking shampooing technique, and is forced to take the only other job she can find—babysitting. Now she’s stuck at the beach entertaining kids while everyone else is having a glamorous summer.Will she ever get a life?
Then she meets Starla, a mind-bogglingly beautiful lifeguard whose diva attitude, dangerous obsessions, male admirers and cringe-worthy blog supply Irene with enough real-life drama and romance to fill a book. Amidst the complicated friendships, inconvenient crushes and occupational mishaps that seem to define this summer, Irene suddenly and unexpectedly finds that the countdown to real life is over and her fate is in her hands. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
We had hosted a book club using Smile two year ago, so I was happy to see that one of her friends liked it enough to get Drama! [graphic novel, ages 10 and up]
After the girls discussed their book picks and swapped books, they made mini apple pies, making the crust from scratch. I picked her up later that evening when her book club ended at 9pm and we set off, with her sister, to The Nerdy Book Club Meetup in Boston. It was a late night for us, but well worth it. We met some wonderful authors and The Nerdy Book Club co-founder and 3rd grade teacher Colby Sharp. And the apple pie was delicious!
The Nerdy Book Club Meet Up
Colby Sharp was kind enough to introduce us to Jennifer L. Holm after hearing that PickyKidPix was a huge fan of Turtle in Paradise. It was one of her favorite chapter books she read in 4th grade!
Jennifer L. Holm is the author of BabyMouse and Squish graphic novel series and the Newbery Honor book, Turtle in Paradise. She does the graphic novel series with her younger brother Matthew.
What a thrill to meet Jacqueline Woodson!! I have some of her books on my 23 Great Picture Books for 5th Grade book list. She is so nice and down to earth! She posed with my girls for a photos saying that it will convince her own girls that kids like her books! Sounds like my kids!
3rd Grade Book Club for Boys
Our third grade book club for boys was a similar format. The boys each brought one or two books they enjoyed that they thought their friends DIDN’T read. They were supposed to talk a few minutes about their book and then swap books. I emphasized that it was a loan; the book would be coming back!
There were a few interesting differences between the 6th grade girls and the 3rd grade boys. The boys in my son’s book club tend to passionately like the same books. Rick Riordan is one of their favorite authors. I had to tell my son NOT to bring a Riordan book because all his friends have already read it. In fact, when his friends get together and talk books, they discuss things like how Percy Jackson can crush Harry Potter. Percy is just that much cooler! The boys all agree about that!
My son wanted to choose “cool” books. Though he enjoyed the Half Magic series, there was NO WAY he would bringing any of those old fashioned chapter books to his book club.
Potty humor was preferred. He ended up taking Zombie Baseball Beatdown which was enthusiatically received based on the title alone and Otis Dooda: Strange but True. We also loaned out Guys Read: Other Worlds for his friend who didn’t want to take a book. I told him that there was a new Percy Jackson story in there that he hadn’t read yet. His mom emailed back later to tell me that he had that read the entire book later that day!!
It was definitely more challenging to get the boys to pay attention to the book presentation and not everyone decided they were willing to loan their book out when it came time to swap.
Still, I don’t think that it mattered. Though the boys had trouble sitting quietly, they were taking in the information and noting the books that were new to them.
They each ended up taking a book home.
And you know the book club was a success when one boy opted not to join his friends to play but instead chose to find a quiet corner to read! His friend was nervous about loaning it out, so he decided just to read it right then and there. He finished it too, and then went downstairs to play, looking very satisfied!
The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
My 8th grader wants to read The Unwanteds too. My son wanted to borrow this book but his friend got gun shy so he got a copy for Christmas. We are reading it now, eschewing Harry Potter Book 4 and the final few chapters of Wonder! It’s billed as The Hunger Games Meets Harry Potter and so far it’s living up to the hype!
Unwanteds are creative kids who are culled out to be killed when they turn 13. Twin boys Alex and Aaron have very different fates. Alex was caught drawing on the ground with a stick and Aaron gets choses as a Wanted. Still, all is not what it seems! [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
(We finished it and I’m happy to report that the violence is subdued because I don’t like violence against kids in books. We are now in search of the second book. My son said that one of the best features of this book is that they give you a sneak peak of the next book!)
Fablehaven by Brandon Mull
Harry Potter fans would like this series! Not all the boys are reading fantasy yet and this book is Harry Potter (books 1-3) thickish which might be intimidating for my son’s friends who are just now reading middle grade chapter books. It would be perfect for a 4th grade book club meeting though, so I’ll keep that in the back of my mind.
Kendra and her brother Seth have no idea their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws give relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken, an arcane evil is unleashed, forcing Kendra and Seth to face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save her family, Fablehaven, and perhaps the world, Kendra must find the courage to do what she fears most. [chapter book, ages 9 and up]
Bone #1: Out of Boneville by Jeff Smith
The boys all seemed to like graphic novels. We will definitely chose one for a future book club meeting. My son’s friend brought in the first two Bone books to wild excitement. [graphic novel, ages 9 and up]
Otis Dooda: Strange but True by Ellen Potter
Boys who like funny will like this chapter book. It’s potty humor on steriods! My son will want the sequel. [chapter book, ages 7 and up]
Guys Read: Other Worlds edited by Jon Scieszka
The Rick Riordan short story about Percy Jackson is a sure way to lure in my son’s Percy Jackson obsessed friends! His friend ended up reading and enjoying the entire book. We are thinking of using Guys Read: Funny Business for a future meeting. I think the short story format will help bridge the different reading levels in this group as well as introduce the boys to a slew of great authors! [short stories, ages 8 and up]
We picked this book for our next meeting and handed out the book to give the boys three weeks to read it. There’s not requirement to read the entire book; I told them just to pick and choose the stories that they like. My son and I loved Shannon Hale’s short story and there is a great one by Rebecca Stead as well!
Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi
The title alone drew hoots of laughter and enthusiasm from the group. It ended up going home with my son’s sporty friend who doesn’t like to read. I call that a reading victory! My son reviews this book and a few others. [chapter book, ages 8 and up]
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