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How to Start a Family Book Club

Family reading is just one of the few activities you can do with your loved ones right now. If your family is enjoying book-reading this winter, why not make it even more special and meaningful? A family book club is a fun and simple way to share a love of reading and foster critical-thinking skills.

But what to read? What questions to ask? How can you take it from fun idea to family tradition?

First step: setting up your book club

Determine a day and time when the kids are well-rested, and it suits the family schedule. Choose how often you’ll meet and then mark it in your calendar. Choose a parent or caregiver to be the ‘leader’ for each meeting. They’ll ask questions and help make sure everyone has a chance to contribute. At this stage, it’s also a good idea to draft your ‘book club expectations’ (i.e. be on time, no interrupting, express different views respectfully).

Next step: choosing engaging and level-appropriate books your young readers will love

Letting your kids choose the books from a pre-screened selection helps them get excited about stories they’re truly interested in. You could let each member suggest a book, stick to specific genres or themes, or make your way through titles that have been turned into movies and have fun comparing the movies to the books.

Two great selections for pre-reader picture books are If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall and Princess Puffybottom… and Darryl by Susin Nielsen. A few chapter books Calgary Reads loves for older readers are The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Pax by Sara Pennypacker.

Now, how can you inspire meaningful conversations about the books?

Here are a few great starter questions:

  • How did any of the characters remind you of someone you know?
  • What was a turning point for the character? The most exciting part?
  • How did the character change from the beginning to the end of the book?
  • How did you feel when ‘x’ did ‘y’? (Open-ended questions are key!)

You’ll be amazed at how your young readers will begin to think about and relate the stories to the bigger picture in their own worlds and the world beyond your home. Keep it short enough to leave your kids wanting more (a half-hour for younger readers or 45 minutes for older readers). Other ways to make your book club fun include designing a special sign and name for your book club, giving the kids a chance to act out parts of the book or dressing up as the characters. You could even enjoy themed snacks!

Want to take your book club even further?

Open the door to a lifetime of reading with Calgary Reads. Little Red Reading House is a place where children can discover the magic of reading and families discover the joy of reading together! For more details and to become a member, visit

We hope your family - maybe even the grandparents or cousins via Zoom - enjoys all the wonders of reading aloud together this winter.

Steacy is the CEO of Calgary Reads, an organization changing children’s lives with the magic of reading. Visit their new Little Red Reading House website,, for a host of family book club resources, including question cards, a guide, and a calendar. 




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