In addition to being in a mother-daughter book club, Clare Havens is also contemplating starting a mother-son group with her 7-year-old son. Here she talks about her reasons for wanting to get this club off the ground and the challenges she expects to face doing so.
Havens is also the author of A Bella Street Mystery: Secret Formula, a “tween noir” novel that she describes as “a fun, suspenseful romp through Manhattan, tying in the worlds of haute couture and 1930s gangsters—think Humphrey Bogart meets Anna Wintour.”
Read on for her perspective on mother-son book clubs.
Starting a mother-son book club? Am I nuts?!
By Clare Havens
Call me crazy but I am seriously thinking about starting up a mother-son book club! Yes, we all hear so much about how boys don’t like to read and the image we have of a parent-child book club is one of mothers and daughters immaculately dressed sipping tea from china cups and saucers while they discuss Jane Austen doesn’t jibe with what we imagine when we think about boys. Gross out jokes. Cartoons. Snot. However, I have been reading recently about some brave souls who not only have started mother/parent-son book clubs but who positively LOVE them!
It seems to me that the key identifying factor of a son book club is the noise and energy level. Boys like to be active, we all know, and they often learn better while they are moving around. It makes sense to me to offer boys activities, related to the book at hand preferably, to occupy them while someone is talking about a certain book. There could be handouts where boys can draw maps showing locations of secret portals or enemy headquarters. There could be mask making or building with Lego bricks or plaster model painting…
There should be food and drink. Boys should be allowed to relax and eat—this isn’t another lesson, it is supposed to be fun! I guess the food could even relate to the book and making it could also be the activity—multitasking boys! Love the idea!
Books needn’t be the only things discussed. Why not comics? Graphic novels? Ebooks—these are much cheaper than paperbacks and many boys can download them onto a computer without buying a specific ereader. Movies could also be discussed, notably how they differ from the book. Boys could also be asked to cast movies for books which have no film version.
Give out the new book at the end of the meeting. No excuses that they couldn’t find the book before the next meeting!
One idea I really like which I read about on http://gettingkidsreading.blogspot.com is to give each person a piece of paper/fabric/bark or whatever on which they have to write the beginning of a story before the next meeting. At the next meeting they swap their piece with someone else and have to continue the story on the other side.
Some clubs have trivia quizzes about the book just read with prizes such as water balloons given for correct answers. At the end of the meeting the boys can go have a water balloon fight outside! The boys can set the quiz questions.
Why not start a simple free blog where club members can post photos, reviews, comments, questions, etc. in between meetings? This might appeal to the techno-savvy set. Tying in technology would appeal to many boys, in my opinion.
These are all ideas that would work well for mother-daughter clubs too but would work really well for many boys. Let’s not leave them out of the fun! I think boys enjoy reading more than they are often given credit for—they may often like reading in a different format to girls but they are often just as passionate about a book or a character. I think I may actually start a mother-son book club, I just have to go figure out how many boys throwing water balloons I can fit in my backyard!