On starting a book club for children

When my oldest child was in third grade, my heart would sink every time she came home with a book fair flyer from school. I understood and fully supported the motto of "building confidence in young readers," but did it have to mean that each flyer be a compendium of books pertaining to underwear and bodily functions, series of vapid characters in interchangeable stories, books packaged with items such as zombie glasses and glow-in-the-dark slime, and books derived from cartoons or other TV characters? Lost among these were of course some gems: Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, Eleanor Estes' Ginger Pye, Charlotte’s Web. But those were not the ones the child clamored to buy (but look, Mom, it’s only $3.99 and it comes with a cupcake charm!)

So I started a book club for a gaggle of third graders. That was in February 2013. A year later, the book club was in the Boston Globe. The eleven members are all now about to enter high school. We've read almost 40 books together. No one has dropped out. We have fabulous discussions, and I'm repeatedly struck by the kids' insights. We read books they are not otherwise picking up, and they have thanked me for this. I always include a snack made up entirely of food items mentioned in the book. And I've had an excuse to read a lot of amazing children's and YA literature. Now the lines are blurred, and we read books which they say are "for adults." (Here are some tips for starting a kids' book club.)

Find a book for your child/teen

I'm often asked for reading recommendations for kids and teens. Below are all the books we've read together.

Third and fourth grades:

Fifth grade:

Sixth grade:

Seventh grade:

Eighth grade:

Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. That said, I highly recommend sourcing these and any other books from your local, independent bookseller instead. I link to Amazon here for ease of access to reviews and such.