Monday, May 30, 2022

How to Start a Book Club for 8 to 12-Year-Olds

​​If you’re looking for a way to get your child reading, start a book club! It’s a great way to encourage kids to read for pleasure, and it can help them develop important skills like critical thinking and communication. Here are some tips on how to start a book club for 8 to 12-year-olds.

Choose a location

Your home could be an option for a book club location, or you might want to look into local community centers and libraries that offer space for peer groups to meet. These days, you could also do a virtual option. Or you can enlist help from your mom friends and rotate homes for each meeting. If you do choose to meet in person, be sure to check with the parents of potential members to ensure that their child is comfortable coming to your home.

Decide on a format

There are lots of different formats you can use for your book club, including: 
  • read aloud discussion, 
  • guided reading, 
  • and independent reading. 
If the kids read independently at home, they can then come prepared to answer questions about the book. Or have each child bring a question they have about the story.

Get creative! You could have the kids make a craft related to the book at each meeting. Or pull out the LEGOs and have kids build something that relates back to the book: a scene, a person, or an object. Or you might choose books that are also available as movies and then watch the film at each meeting. 

Keep trying new formats as you go along and see what works best for your group. You may find that some formats work better for certain types of books.

Choose books wisely

While it's important to pick books that everyone will enjoy and that encourage critical thinking skills, it's also important that they are at the right reading level

Additionally, try to look for books with a good mixture of male and female characters, as well as characters from different backgrounds and cultures. Diverse books are always a good choice. You can find a lot of them here on MommyMaestra.

Encourage discussion

Discussing the books is an essential part of a book club, so be sure to pick titles that will spark interesting discussions! You can even have your own "mystery box" that contains possible book choices, and let the kids choose from there.

If you don't want to read the books yourself, then you can: 
  1. have your child lead the group and come up with questions to ask, or
  2. look online for discussion questions. 
Author websites and publisher websites often have lesson plans or discussion questions that can be downloaded. But TpT is also a good place to look.

Put rewards in place

Whether it's a small prize or public praise, make sure the kids have some sort of reward in place to encourage their participation. Don't be afraid to add your own personal touch to this!

Here are a few reward ideas for kids ages 8 to 12.

Start small

Remember, you don't have to start with a huge group. A smaller group of dedicated readers is better than a large group that doesn't participate. You can always build up from there. Quality over quantity! (It's also a lot easier to manage and more budget friendly, depending on your reward plans.)

Be flexible

Try to be flexible with your book club plans. If a child can’t make it to a meeting, don’t force them to come. And if someone wants to bring a friend, that’s great! The more the merrier.

Use printable activity sheets

If you do a quick search for "book club printables" there are a lot of great options that come up. Think about using reading logs, book reports, bookmarks, reading craftivities, etc. Or challenge your children to design their own book club signs, member roster, book list, etc.

Later this week, I'll share some bilingual book club printables I designed and link to them here.

How to modify the book club for specific themes

If you want to focus on a specific theme for your book clubs, like science fiction or mystery, you can use these steps as a guide. Just make sure to choose books that fit the theme, and encourage discussion around that topic. You might even want to create some themed activities to go along with the reading.

Example: Summer Book Club

A good example of modifying a book club would be a summer book club. You can include classics like Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days or contemporary titles like Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Example: Hispanic Heritage Month Book Club for kids

If you're looking for a way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with kids, a book club is a perfect option. You can use books like Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan or The Mystery of the Mischievous Marker: A Mickey Rangel Mystery by René Saldaña Jr. or Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle if you are looking for books by Latino authors.

Example: Women's History Month for kids

If you're looking for a way to celebrate Women's History Month with kids, a book club is a perfect option. You could focus on books featuring strong female protagonists like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo.

Where is the best place to buy books for book clubs?

First, always try your local library. Especially if the book club members live in different areas. But if your book club consists of neighborhood kids, chances are your library won't have enough copies for everyone. So, the best place to buy books for book clubs is typically a local bookstore or online retailer. Many bookstores will offer discounts for book club purchases, and you can often find good deals on used books as well. 

If you're looking for specific titles, it's usually best to check online retailers like or Barnes & Noble.

How should an adult be involved in the book club?

Your level of involvement as an adult has in your children's book club will ultimately depend on the group's preferences. Some clubs may prefer that adults take a more hands-off approach, while others may appreciate having an adult chaperone or facilitator. Ultimately, it's up to the group to decide what level of involvement is best for them. You may lead discussions or just provide snacks and help with set up! 

Starting a book club can be a great way to encourage kids to read and discuss books critically. By choosing wisely, you can create a book club that is interesting for kids and encourages discussion. Be sure to have rewards in place to motivate the kids, and try to be flexible with your plans. If you want to focus on a specific theme or holiday, you can easily modify the book club to fit your needs.

Have you ever started a book club for kids? How did it work out?

Other Posts You May Enjoy

image source: Canstock Photo - Ferli

Friday, May 27, 2022

Book Review: TEACH by Dennis Dinoia

TEACH by Dennis Dinoia

This is a sponsored book post. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Every kid is different. We all know that. And if you have more than one child at home, you know that different kids sometimes require different instruction or motivation. 

One of the comments I see a lot of in the homeschool groups I run or am a member of is: How do I get my kid to work on his/her own? I have certainly struggled with this myself. My oldest just graduated and has always been self-motivated. Never did I tell her to go get her school work done. (She was actually only homeschooled until high school, then went to a private school to finish out.)

But at home, I am still homeschooling a sophomore and a preschooler. Actually, they are both about to move up a "grade."  But I frequently tear my hair out because my 16yo has to be badgered all the time to get his school work done. Every. Single. Day. I have to tell him to get it done. 

So I was pretty interested when I heard that Dennis Dinoia of Mr. D Math was coming out with a book that specifically talks about how to get kids to be responsible for their own education. 

TEACH by Dennis Dinoia

Raising Independent Learners

TEACH: Creating Independently Responsible Learners helps parents become their children's education partners, rather than their monitors, hand-holders, or naggers. 

Inside the pages of this book, you'll learn what exactly he means when he uses the term independently responsible learners (umm, it's exactly what it sounds like). But what I enjoyed most, is learning different techniques for nurturing my child's ability to learn independently....and  willingly. 

Dennis shares his ah-ha moments as a teacher that led to his strategy for developing independent learners. Some of these techniques I recognized from my own days as a student, as well as a homeschooling mom. For example, making the student the teacher. This is something I often told my kids when they were younger: "If you can teach it to me, or each other, or someone else, then you will understand it." I can't believe that I FORGOT this trick now that my middle kid is in high school where it would be sooo effective!! Ugh. 

But that's why I love this book. And it's how I know that the guidance inside these pages is solid.

It also includes a bonus chapter at the end to help you or your student set goals. He literally walks you through it and gives you the tools you need to visually lay out a plan that you can follow.

Change Your Mindset

If you are a homeschool mom like me who is feeling a lot of burnout after a few difficult years (let's face it: they were hard for everyone), and you are looking for an inspirational book to help you reset your mindset, this book is definitely for you. 

Even if you have fairly self-motivated kids who get their work done without being told to do so, this book has some wonderful techniques for you to implement to continue nurturing their independent spirit when it comes to their education.

We are about to stop schooling for the summer (and don't get me wrong, I've been looking forward to relaxing this summer), but I'm already looking forward to implementing many of the techniques discussed in this book. 

The Discount

The paperback version of this book is $14.95 on Amazon. BUT between now and June 15, 2022, you can get the eBook for just $.99! Don't wait. If you have a collection of books about homeschooling or teaching, this is one is a must-add.

Want to find this post again? Pin it!

TEACH by Dennis Dinoia

Other Posts You May Enjoy

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Spring Flowers Pronoun Game in Spanish

For some of us, it feels like spring has already sprung and been squashed by summer. But for most of people, warmer temperatures and blooming gardens are filling the days. Now is a good time to keep up your child's Spanish lessons with this month's freebie from MommyMaestra sponsor, Spanish for You!, a perfect activity for young Spanish learners!

This month's freebie is a game for learning about personal pronouns. Spring Flowers Pronoun Game helps your young student learn the Spanish words for pronouns. This three-page download comes with instructions, a pronoun help sheet, and a game sheet.

Download the printable file here


Remember! Spanish for You!'s program is geared for middle schoolers and is the perfect choice for homeschoolers and afterschoolers alike because their concepts are carefully divided up into manageable bundles that are available for immediate download from their website.

If this is your first time here, you can find other free samples from Spanish for You! here. There are some fantastic downloads of games and activities for you and your family to enjoy. If you enjoy this activity, be sure to visit the Spanish for You! website where you'll find tons of additional resources for you to help your young Spanish learner!

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Pablo Neruda Reading Passage


Pablo Neruda is such a controversial figure. People seem to either love him or hate him.

Either way, parents and teachers are looking for resources to study the poet. And these resources can be hard for a person to find. It seems like the online lesson plans come and go, but I just updated my post Pablo Neruda Lesson Plans, Videos, Books, and More

This post contains affiliate links.

Pablo Neruda Reading Worksheet

I have also gone ahead and adapted the one-page reading passage in my Hispanic Poets packet into a more lengthy, stand-alone activity. It is now available in my TpT store.

This is an age-appropriate short biographical intro to the poet, not the politician. 

It's best suited for students in 4th through 7th grade and is available in both English or Spanish - you choose the language that meets your needs. 

And, yes, it does include an 8-question quiz to test your student's comprehension. 

How to Use It

This reading passage may be:

  • assigned as homework, 
  • for an in-class assignment, 
  • as an activity for a sub,
  • as part of a larger lesson plan (see my post on Neruda lesson plans)

You can also have your students use it to:
  • read aloud to practice pronunciation in Spanish or English
  • create a story board
  • fill out a story map
  • write a summary
  • complete a K-W-L chart
  • create a timeline of Neruda's life
  • identify and define new vocabulary
  • find Chile on a map
  • write their own a different colored ink?
  • write a character analysis
  • complete a Venn diagram to compare/contrast Neruda with another poet

This reading passage would do well with studies about Neruda, Chile, poets, writers, literature, nature, Hispanic Heritage Month, historical figures, and more.

And if you are looking for a book that would pair nicely with this introduction, I recommend:

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan and Peter Sis. It's also available in Spanish: El soñador

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

40 Ways to Keep Your Child Excited About Reading

Happy May! 

For some, the end of the school year is in sight. For others, school will continue through the hot summer months. Either way, your child's reading development should be one of the things you stay on top of this summer.

This month, we'll be focusing on summer reading: tips, books, strategies, and more.

One challenge that parents face during the summer is keeping their kids excited about reading. So we've put together a short list of ways to make reading fun.

Did we miss one? Let us know!

Read with your children
© Can Stock Photo / evgenyatamanenko

40+ Ways to Get Your Kids Excited About Reading

  1. Read with your child.
  2. Make it special and set up a comfortable reading nook just for your child.
  3. Visit the bookstore or library on a weekly basis.
  4. Translate a story!
  5. Read the book...then watch the movie... or vice versa! Discuss which one you liked better and why.
  6. Involve friends. Invite your child's friends over for a book swap party.
  7. Create your own book club and meet weekly to discuss new books.
  8. Make puppets and then have your child(ren) put on a puppet show of the story for friends and family.
  9. Dress up in costumes and re-enact the story! (Who doesn't love a good play?)
  10. Write up a book report.
  11. Read to a pet!
  12. Help your child create a video book review!
  13. Add variety. Read books, magazines, eBooks, cookbooks, fiction, non-fiction, biographies, comic books, graphic novels, classics, action & adventure...
  14. Ask your child to write and illustrate his/her own story.
  15. Read outside.
  16. Read in the car.
  17. Download an eBook app, such as EpicStoria, or Readyland.
  18. Go to the park to read!
  19. Make up different endings.
  20. Buy picture books without words and make up your own story.

    © Can Stock Photo / Choreograph

  21. Read to a stuffed toy.
  22. Use story boards.
  23. Make meals mentioned in the story.
  24. Create a felt story board.
  25. Join a summer reading program.
  26. Listen to audiobooks.
  27. Create a reward chart.
  28. Use reading logs to record their progress.
  29. Use story cubes.
  30. Use incentives (these can be physical items or simple privileges).
  31. Read aloud. Pick a book you both love and take turns reading to each other.
  32. Dress it up! Gift wrap a book you've carefully selected and give it to your child as a gift.
  33. Make sure your child is reading books on her level. Books that are too difficult or advanced make reading a lot less fun.
  34. Buy a fun book light at the dollar store. 
  35. Bribery! (Lol!!)
  36. Give your child his own library card.
  37. Stay up late reading!
  38. Read to a friend.
  39. Read to Abuela or Abuelo (Grandma or Grandpa).
  40. Let your child choose the book.
  41. Find books on topics your child is interested in.
  42. Vary your child's reading routine.

Other Posts You May Enjoy


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...