Running Online Book Clubs for Students
COVID-19 might have made online book clubs necessary for the past few weeks, but I have always allowed our school students to connect online. During COVID social isolation and schooling from home, our book clubs connected online and via video chats.
Online book clubs for students might look completely different depending on what platforms are available to each school and how each book club operates. I share here what worked for our school library and students and some of the things I learnt.
At my school library, we have weekly book clubs that are divided by age group. For the past few years now I have been running a Year 6-12 book club that meets weekly to talk about what they are reading and writing, take a look a new books, argue about cliff hangers vs edge grippers (a term we made up, we believe), hold unofficial book launches and generally have lots of fun each week. I also run a weekly Year 3-4 book club and we do similar things, but also read aloud from a picture book or novel and colour in or do bookish craft. Our awesome library technician runs the Year 1-2 group and I was also recently approached by a group of students wanting to create a new Year 5-6 group. For more book club ideas check out this post.
When COVID hit and schools were closed, I turned to online measures to keep our readers connected.
An Online Platform
Our school uses SchoolBox as an online learning management system. When that was launched I asked leadership for a Book Club group page for my Year 6-12 book club. Since then, we’ve been chatting, holding quizzes, sharing book-related Pinterest boards, giving book recommendations, sharing our writing and taking polls to determine everything from our favourite genres to preferred reading locations. Having an online area for the members to connect has allowed those not so vocal in meetings to have their say. It’s also added an element of fun to the group with quizzes, videos and polls. Members who can’t always join the lunchtime weekly session can stay apprised of group news.
Display – Create
Our theme for Term 2 this year is Create. It is the theme for ALIA’s Library and Information Week, and I have used their AMAZING artwork as the basis for our display.
Every year, ALIA share some fantastic ideas and graphics for their Library and Information Week and it is becoming my habit to base my Term 2 theme and displays around their theme. I adore this year’s theme Create. It fits so perfectly with what our library is all about. And those graphics are just amazing. On their website, ALIA share a range of themed graphics and I poster printed our main display from one them. It turned out really well (if I do say so myself.) Already it has caught the eye of our students (though we only have a handful actually in the library, due to COVID).
As many of our students are learning from home, we will share our create theme via our library homepage, social media and online book clubs. I am hoping to turn our main circulation display into a “Create Mural”, sharing photos of all the things students have been making at home and in the library.
Our first entrance way display in the Create theme features cookbooks.
Display – Space
I was able to attend the Year 6 camp to Canberra last year and by far and away my favourite stop on the busy tour was the Deep Space Centre at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex. Regaled by stories of the space missions currently in space, the science behind the search for life on Mars, and the vastness of the universe, we sat under a giant model of the solar system, next to a model of Rover Curiosity and were shown pictures of Mars’s most recent sunrise. We were given the links to help scientists categories galaxies and basically I was just in nerd heaven. Creating a space display went straight to the top of my to-do list.
School Libraries During COVID-19
COVID-19 has, very quickly, changed our world. It seemed to come out of nowhere (though some dystopian writers might say they predicted this years ago) and within a matter of weeks and months, life as we know it has been altered. For many, the impact has been far greater reaching than a change in civil liberties. It’s a heart breaking situation for many.
Within schools, it has sparked quick change. A big drop in attending student numbers. The move to online learning. A very quick learning curve for many as they navigate new technologies and new pedagogies.
Display – Benefits of Reading
Inspired by the work of Professor Margaret Merga, I wanted to talk to students about the benefits of reading. At one school, I am fortunate to be working with a teacher librarian who has designed a whole year 8 library lessons course around Merga’s research and the benefits of reading. At my other workplace, I placed an infographic about the benefits of reading into this year’s library welcome booklet and created this display, which sits above our student printers, hoping it will catch the eyes of students who may not regularly pick up a book.
Activity – Weapon (book) launch party
With the release of a new book by Lynette Noni, my high school book clubers just couldn’t wait to get their hands on Weapon, sequel to Whisper. We couldn’t make the trip to the offical launch parties being held around Australia, so we decided to hold our own. It was a fun way to celebrate (any excuse for food in book club is popular) and helped promote our book club to readers who usually didn’t attend. Their were a few members who were not fans but cheerfully went along with things, content with the party supplies.
Display – Buddy Reads
This display was the idea of one of my fellow librarians, who suggested a buddy read display when she noted how many books we had duplicate copies of.
Display – Welcome Back The Books Missed You
This is by no means an original idea. I’d seen the phrase with related displays on Pinterest and thought it would be a great replacement for my old Australia Day display I traditionally use in the first week back of school.
Display – Connect to the Library
The theme for our library this first term 2020 is Connect. My focus is on really engaging with students and hopefully getting them to engage with the library in return. We are highlighting both our online connections and face-to-face activities. I am reusing our puzzle theme, as puzzles remain popular with our students and I already had them cut (I’m lazy but I like to call it time management!!).
Year in Review – 2019
Well, 2019 has come and gone. I know everyone is saying the year has just flown by. And yes, I agree with that, but I can also see that the year has been very busy, with lots achieved and even more packed into each and every day. 2020 seems set to be an even bigger and better year.
So, here is my year in review. I’ll start with my favourite books and then add some library highlights, and then I’ll finish with some things I am looking forward to in 2020. Don’t forget to check out my lists of most anticipated titles due for release in January 2020. The list is HUGE and promises a fantastic year ahead in the world of book publishing.
Favourite Books of 2019
The Queen’s Resistance – Rebecca Ross. Sequel to The Queen’s Rising, I and my high school book clubers loved this amazing novel. Full review here.
Katie McGarry gave me two amazing reads, Only A Breath Apart and Echoes Between Us (which is due for release in January 2020, but I had the privilege of reading it in 2019, so it’s going on this list.) And if you like that edge of the supernatural, try another of my favourites from this year, Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia.
Jenn Bennett did it again with Serious Moonlight and the response from my YA contemporary library readers was the same “it’s just so good!!!”.