Saturday, July 01, 2006

Family Book Club

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show as a family, and then connected with your child as a result of it? It could have been a shared joke, or a story about when you were their age, or best yet, maybe an insight into their dreams or fears.

TV and movies can be valuable, but I think that we are neglecting a very important channel that we can use for these ongoing discussions and common experiences. That channel is books. The problem is that for us to really have a shared experience, we have to read what they are reading, or at the very least, ask them about what they are reading.

This summer, I wanted to make a concerted effort to read with my daughter. She is an avid reader, but I still try to read aloud with her at night. A few of the books that we've read have been new to both of us, but some were books that I read as a child (the Little House series, and Mandy, which she loved as much as I remembered loving it). I had seen several recommendations for the book The Penderwicks.

I wanted to read it first, because I thought it might be a little too old for her. However, I find that I can read books aloud to her that might be just a bit above her reading level, as long as the story is appropriate. Well, I loved this book as soon as I started it! She is a strong reader for a second grader, so she's actually reading it on her own, but I think it would be appropriate to read aloud to ages six or seven and up (all the way up to young teens). My complete review of the book is here.

I have written a little question/discussion guide to go along with the book. I think that the book opens doors to talk about your own childhood, and the way your family is now. My goal is that the whole family could be involved in the discussions, even if the whole family isn't involved in reading it. For example, a four year old wouldn't be interested in the story, but could answer the question, "What was a really great day your family spent together?" Same goes with the husbands. If they want to be a part of reading aloud, or want to read the book on their own, great. Terry doesn't share my appreciation for children's literature, but he can still participate in the discussions when asked, "What is something that each member of your family does well?"

You can introduce this to your family in several ways:
  • The least involved is to have your child read the book, and tell you about it as you go through the questions with them.
  • You can each read the book independently and discuss the questions (after every chapter, or every few chapters, depending on how fast they are reading through it).
  • You can read the book aloud as a family, discussing the questions at the end of each chapter. I noticed that there is also an unabridged Audio CD version, which could be a great alternative to TV or a way to bide time on a long car trip, when you have a captive audience.

You can email me if you would like a copy of the questions(jennifer(DOT)snapshotATyahoo(DOT)com). I would love to share them, but if you do request a copy of the questions, I would also ask that you give feedback on them. When I send the questions, I will also send feedback that I would appreciate. I would also ask that instead of passing them along, you would simply direct the person to this entry, so that they can read the idea behind them, and so that I know who has the copies.

If you've successfully done something like this in your family, please leave a comment and let me know. I am looking for new books to read together and write about. Even if you don't choose to read this book, I hope that you will think of ways that you can encourage your child to read this summer and throughout the year.


Katrina said...

Last summer, we read the Chronicles of Narnia aloud as a family. Every evening, we would read a chapter or two and we managed to read the whole series (7 books) over the summer. We loved it! And while we didn't have a structured discussion guide, we did have great conversations about the books, their rich symbolism, the unmistakeable lessons. We still find ourselves saying, "It's just like in Narnia..." about various situations.

I completely agree with you that books are an excellent opportunity to grow and bond our family together!

Lee said...

Count me in - I will pick up a copy and start soon. We are always looking for good books. I will let you know when I need the questions. Thanks!

Tammy said...

Wow! You put such great thought into your posts and it's great that you wrote a discussion guide...I may just e-mail you for a copy! :)

I love reading to my girls but my ritual of having them each pick out a book at bedtime is suddenly getting more challenging as the gaps in their levels are getting wider. (My other daughter is four.) However, my oldest still enjoys hearing her old favorites for younger kids, so at least they can still both enjoy SOME of the same books!

One more quick thing...our home school group last year which meets every week for a social time with the kids, had monthly book reports. It was a huge hit! Each month, the kids were told a subject (such as animals) and they got to pick their own book, then present a report in front of the group. Even my then 3 yr. old liked to particate with one of her little books by telling about it and showing a picture she drew. I suppose this is something any family or group of kids could do, home school or not.

By the way- I appreciate so much your stopping by at my site.
God's blessings...

Brandi said...

I couldn't agree more. A big part of our homeschool curriculum is reading aloud. It is by far our family's favorite thing. There is just something very special about sharing that expereince. It is like you have been on a journey together and you can't wait to talk about all you have seen and done.

I think the kids have learned a lot about me and visa versa. Through these read aloud experiences they have learned what makes me laugh, what makes me cry, what makes me curious.

There is somethng very private and special about journeying through a book together. You are getting insight into another person's life, including their triumphs and their failures. You get to go on adventure with them. And by reading aloud with your family you get to take them along.

Anonymous said...

I am a part of a mother/daughter book club and this month' selection was The Penderwick's. I am hosting the meeting tomorrow and am trying to come up with some discussion questions for our group. I would love for you to e-mail me the questions you came up with.

Anonymous said...

I'm also hosting a Mother-Daughter bookclub on "The Penderwicks" this month and would love to get a copy of your discussion questions. My email address is Thanks for such a great and informative website.

debbifromcharleston said...

I am starting a mother/daughter bookclub with my 8year old and our first book is The Penderwicks. I would LOVE to see your questions.

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for sites like this for a long time. Thank you! film editing schools

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm also hosting a Mother-Daughter bookclub on "The Penderwicks". I would love to get a copy of your discussion questions. My email is

Your website is fantastic. Thank you.

Melissa Stoller said...

Thanks for this excellent post! For more creative ideas about starting a family book club, read my newly-published book, "The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading" (Melissa Stoller & Marcy Winkler, HorizonLine Publishing, 2009, We offer practical suggestions for organizing your book club, plus 20 "Book Club Model Guides" featuring discussion questions and enrichment activities to help you easily and economically connect with your families through a community of books.

trishpenner said...

Thank you so much for The Penderwicks discussion questions. I homeschool my three daughters and I had each of them read the book and answer your questions and then we listened to the book on cd. This morning we went out for breakfast and had "bookclub". It was so wonderful to have your questions to help guide our discussion.