For the Love of Book Groups

I love reading groups of all kinds. We often think of reading as a solitary activity, but when you really love reading you want to share your joy with others. Reading groups combine our love great books with the enjoyment of socializing. It’s truly a win-win situation!

All types of group reading are great for:

  • Improving reading fluency and confidence
  • Building vocabulary
  • Developing comprehension skills
  • Building empathy and connections to other people
  • Learning to see things from different perspectives

Types of Reading Groups

These groups may have different ways of reading but they are all good.

  • Read Aloud Club
    These groups read something out loud at their meetings and then have a discussion or do activities related to the story. These are great groups for people building their reading skills or busy folks who don’t have time to read in between meetings.
  • Walk and Listen Club
    Meet some friends in a park and listen to the same book while you enjoy a walk together. Then stop at a picnic table, have a drink or some snacks, and talk about what you just listened to. TIP: Our Hoopla audiobook collection would be great for this type of group – everyone can check out the same book with no waiting lists!book cover
  •  Choose Your Own Adventure®
    This group sounds like so much fun to me – I loved reading Choose Your Own Adventure Books when I was younger. This group reads a Choose Your Own Adventure book out loud together. When they get to a spot where the character makes a decision the group votes on which choice to make. The publisher has related resources for groups to use and an opportunity for group members to win a prize pack.  I love it!
  • Poetry, Article or Play Reading Group
    You don’t have to read just books in a reading group. You can read poems (great for reading aloud), play scripts (channel your inner actor), short stories, articles, essays – whatever your group enjoys. Check out our PostPublic Article Club the first Sunday of each month.
  • Genre Group
    Some groups will all read a book from a certain genre – like a cozy mystery or a science fiction adventure. Or they might all read a books that were written by the same author. At their meetings everyone will share what they liked or disliked from what they read and the group might talk about what sorts of similar themes were present in the books.
  • Let’s just meet and share good books we have read
    Yes, sometimes people just like to share whatever they’re reading and it’s great.

Book Discussion Groups

In a these types of groups we’re all going to read the same book before we meet and then get together and talk about it.  This can be done with all types of readers in all sorts of ways:

  • Kids Only (with adult help)
    The kids are going to do the discussing, the adults are just there to keep them on track and give them some guidance.Book Group Reading Together
  • Inter-generational
    Children and/or teens and adults meet to discuss a book. This is great for seeing a book from a different perspective.
  • Family
    Why not read a book and discuss it together as a family? This can connect families who live far apart as they can share via an online social media group or message board.
  • Online
    With email, social media groups and video conferencing there are all sorts of ways folks can connect to chat about books without meeting in person. We have a new online book group on Facebook HIIT the Books.
  • One Book One Community
    This is where someone challenges a city, a school, or some sort of other group to all read the same book. Often the organizer or organizers will then plan activities, discussion opportunities, or other events related to the book. We took this a step farther with two books for 2Book Topeka that happens twice a year. Our spring 2020 books are The One and Only Ivan and Katherine Applegate and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
  • Next Chapter Book Club
    There is an organization called Next Chapter Book Club which gives adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities a chance to be in a book group.  The goal is for them to engage in literacy, socialize and hang out in a community setting.  Book clubs meet weekly for one hour in such places as bookstores, coffee shops and libraries.  Volunteers who are interested sign on to be an affiliate of the organization and go through training.

Resources to get you started

Check out the library’s Book Group in a Bag collection. Each bag has 10 copies of the same book and a discussion guide. We have bags with kids books, young adult books and adult books. Bags are reserved for the day you want to pick it up and take it to your meeting. Our Book Group in a Bag team is more than happy to help any group with advice on picking out a book, leading a discussion, or other questions – just contact us at bookkits@tscpl.org

Here are some helpful tips for starting a group and for discussion leaders. We’d love to have you join one of our library sponsored book groups.

Come to our Reading Champions program on Reading Groups, which I will be leading at the library on Sat, March 7 at 9:30 a.m. We’ll talk about how reading groups can help boost literacy skills, the different types of groups, and tips on how to start and lead a group.

Here are some books about reading groups and book clubs from our collection:

View complete list

Deborah Ellerbrook

Some of my many roles at the library include: tax form guru, collectibles promoter, inspirational fiction evangelist, adult literacy promoter, Book Group in a Bag cheerleader, So Many Books book discussion group leader and reader's advisor.