One of my favourite parts of my job is running our book groups. We have three reading groups here at school: on Mondays, for years 7 and 8; Tuesdays, for years 9, 10 and 11, and half-termly for staff and 6th formers.
These groups mostly involve book-related discussion and, especially with years 7-11, many imaginative conversational tangents.
With the year 7 and 8s we tend to follow book awards such as the Red House Book Award. Each pupil will take one of the shortlisted books out and then we discuss what we have read during the reading group. We also have a bank of book related questions which we use to focus the group when conversation goes slightly awry! These are things like “where is the strangest place you’ve ever read a book?” and “do you ever re-read books?”
With the year 9, 10 and 11 book group we tend to follow the Carnegie award or do themed reading, such as when we had the author Matt Dickinson visiting school. At the moment, we have selected some books from the long list for them to read (the longlist is so long this year that it would be almost impossible to use all of them!) However, somewhat inevitably, the conversation often ends up returning to its default “Harry Potter” setting. We also have a majority of boys in this reading group, so computer games and zombies are also recurring conversation topics.
I have learnt that, when confronted with a group of teenage boys who won’t speak due to impending Maths exams, all you need to do is mention zombies and they will perk up almost immediately. An important life lesson!
The staff and 6th form reading group takes on the more traditional reading group format, whereby we choose a book, all read it and then discuss it during our next meeting. Choosing the books tends to alternate between staff and pupils and takes on a loosely democratic form – a few books will be suggested and the most popular will be chosen as the next book. This half term we have been reading “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. We buy lots of cake and treats for this book group, which always adds to the general enjoyment; cake and books go together incredibly well, I think.
Does anyone else run or attend book groups?