I’ve been asked on Twitter by a few different people how I run/fund my high school book club, so I decided I should write a post about it. I’m still working on improving it, so if you run a book club I’d love to know what you do to make it fun.
I’ll start with a little bit of background. After our librarian left and we found out that she wasn’t going to be replaced, I asked my principal if I could take over book club. We had a secretary working in the library, but she wasn’t familiar with the books and was really hired to work on technology stuff. Later in the year we hired a technology person who would work in the library, but again, he was mostly brought in to help with technology issues in the building. Thankfully my YA class and my well known passion for reading helped gain me some members, albeit a small amount of members. I think the first year I ran it we had fifteen members, but only six or so came on a regular basis. Since then our numbers have grown, but I still have a tough time getting more kids to come regularly. We meet after school for about an hour since it’s difficult to arrange a time during any other part of the day. At first we met almost once a week because we wanted to discuss books and we were working on improving/decorating the library since we don’t have a librarian. When I started this book club, we chose together which books we’d read and I usually bought a few copies of the chosen book with my own money. I honestly can’t remember if we did much fundraising that first year.
The second year was much better. We spent more time making displays in the library. We started holding fundraisers to purchase the books we’d read and we also held fundraisers to purchase books for the library. My kids loved doing this and were really motivated to raise money. When new books would arrive, we’d find ways of displaying them so more students would travel into the library to check them out. That year I really felt like I was running the library in my classroom and our actual library. I wasn’t down there organizing books and checking them in and out to students, but I was trying to find ways to purchase more books and put eye-catching displays together.
This year, my students and I have given up trying to decorate the library because the technology teacher was pulled to teach full time. The same secretary is down there, but she’s working more on technology issues. We also have an online schooling program going on in the library, so it isn’t being used at all anymore by our students. They go down there to check out text books and some might still check out library books, but I don’t know how often that happens. Hopefully more than I think. The fundraising we do goes towards purchasing our book club books which I still donate to the library. If we get our library back, I’ll be happy to have my students work on displays and fundraising, but this year that just doesn’t seem worth it.
I do have a larger group of students this year which makes it fun getting to know them and their reading preferences. Last year and this year we’ve put all of our names into a bucket and we draw a name every time we choose a new book to read. This way each student gets to help choose our next book. They still ask for my advice, but I try to make sure each students gets to read a book they’re interested in. We’re constantly on Goodreads looking for our next book.
Most of the fundraising we’ve done consists of bake sales. We’ve apparently priced our bake sales well because we usually make around $150-$200 in a week. Last year one of the moms got involved and made us lots of cookies to sell. The kids in our school found out she was baking for us and were really excited to buy some of her cookies :) I’m also really fortunate to have a great group of kids who also love to bake. I love to coupon shop, especially in the summer, so whenever boxes of brownie mix, cookies, or the like go on sale I buy a bunch of them so we can make them for bake sales. A friend of mine sells Premier jewelry and told me that I could hold a book party at school as a fundraiser. We received a portion of the profits we earned. To help promote the fundraiser, we offered a jewelry giveaway for each order made or something like that (I think we added a person’s name every $25 or so they spent). With those parties, the hostess holding the party always earns free jewelry, so we used that free jewelry for the giveaway. It definitely helped! We also paired up with Tropical Smoothie and earned a percentage of the sales during a designated time period, so we advertised that at school as well. We’ve been meaning to have a car wash in the spring, but every time we want to, another club has beat us to it.
I do need help coming up with fun meeting ideas. Last year we read Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, so we decided to make crepes during our discussion meeting. The French teacher let us borrow her crepe maker and each of us brought a different ingredient to make the crepes. Since we were making so many, we let the teachers in the building know so they could get a crepe after school. We’ve Skyped with a couple authors as well. We read The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner and Skyped with her, which was fun as usual. Our first year we read Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler and talked with her on the phone; my kids loved that. Last year we read Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler, so we made cupcakes for our meeting and Skyped with her. I think it’s a given that this year we’ll read The Book of Broken Hearts. I made monster cookies for when we discussed The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd. Other than those things, I’m really not sure what else we should do. I’d love some suggestions!
Here’s a list of books we’ve read in book club. Titles in bold were enjoyed by most of the group. I hope I didn’t forget any titles!:
- Enclave by Ann Aguirre
- Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
- The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
- Wolves, Boys, and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristin Chandler (this one had a lot of mixed reactions)
- The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
- Hush, Hush & Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
- Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
- Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
- Things Change by Patrick Jones
- Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
- Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
- Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
- Fixing Delilah & Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
- The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
- Freefall by Mindi Scott
- The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd (lots of mixed reaction, but overall I think they liked it)
- Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Our current read is Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I hope they all like it! We’ve also had times when we read different books connected by theme or topic.