Recently I started a book club for the kids in our homeschool group. Well actually I started in hopes of getting my own son interested in reading harder, bigger, longer books than he usually did. You see, Jack tends to get in ruts or jags as they call them. It happens with food, movies, clothes, and books. He has book that he has read 20 times. He practically has them memorized. However, once he gets in a jag it's hard to get him out of it. I decided that maybe peer involvement would be a good way to help him stretch and go beyond.
I had him choose the first book. His older siblings had been trying for ages to get him to read one of Brandon Mull's books. He chose The Candy Shop War by Brandon Mull. It wasn't a classic, but it was a good size book and he was excited about the club.
The kids were all excited about the book even though some had read it before. I chose to keep this club to ages 7 and up because I wanted to be able to have good literary type discussion and not have to worry so much about book content.
While everyone was arriving I had the kids start thinking up a name for the book club. After everyone was there, I passed around folders for everyone to keep their papers in and a simple plot diagram for them to fill in if they wanted.
First, we discussed what a protagonist is and who they thought the protagonist was in the story. Then we did the same for the antagonist. I then explained how if you had a protagonist and an antagonist in a book there would be conflict.
Next we discussed the six different types of conflict. I had a big pad of paper and on it I wrote man vs. six times. Then I asked them to tell me what types of conflict there were. The first they came up with was man vs. man since I led them into it by explaining the protagonist vs. antagonist first. Between the parents and the children we were able to come up with all six kinds. The only one they had trouble with was the man vs. machine so I gave some leading clues.
Next we discussed the climax of the book. I gave them the definition on my big chart first and then let them discuss and brainstorm on what part of the story was the climax. A few times I had to bring them back to the definition to see if their theory fit.
After they had discussed the climax and seem to come to an agreement, I introduced the theme. I thought this would be better after discussing the basic plot so they would have a better idea of the theme. It was still hard for them to get on the right track. After a bit, one of the parents suggested good vs. evil as a theme and we discussed that to see if it fit. In this book there was a part where the kids were doing something wrong, but trying to do the right thing. So we also discussed that and maybe times when it would be appropriate.
That was it for the discussion on this book. I didn't want to overwhelm them, a lot of them weren't aware that we were going to be discussing it in this way. The kids then decorated book marks and also filled out note cards suggesting names for the club and book suggestions for future club picks.
Before the meeting I had chosen five books for the kids to vote on and choose a book for the meeting next month. I had: The Hobbit, The Birchbark House, Captains Courageous, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Around the World in 80 Days. The kids voted and chose The Hobbit.
The kids also brought their favorite candy, enough for everyone, labeled with the super power you gained from eating it. This was a major part of the book. Each child took a turn to tell us about their candy and pass it out.
And they voted on a name...The Big Bull Riders. What can I say there are a lot of boys in the group.