Published on July 6, 2015 inParenting on LandOMoms.com
One issue every parent has is finding enough time in the day for moments that really matter — experiences that have nothing to do with errands, work or school. Here’s an idea that creates quality time with your friends and your kids — all while teaching your kids good reading habits.
The Mom & Kid Book Club
Like other book clubs, the concept of a parent and child book club has been around for some time. But one group of Moms invented their own approach, out of necessity, to make it work for them.
“A mom in my neighborhood wanted to start a book club to spend time with other moms, but getting a sitter on weekend evenings made this a challenge,” says Shanta McGahey, a mom and Land O’Frost employee. “Another friend suggested we hold the club on Friday afternoons instead, with everyone’s kids. Turning it into a Mom & Kid Book Club not only addressed this issue, it improved upon the original idea.”
Kids tend to create the need for girl time in the first place. So adding them to the mix may seem counterintuitive. But McGahey and her friends see the bigger picture – the benefits it provides the kids far outweigh the need for time with just the girls.
Independent Reading’s Impact on Kids
“By adding other kids to the mix, you are associating reading with fun,” says McGahey.
This is more likely to give your kids a love for independent reading in a social environment. And it’s proven that kids with this habit have better literacy rates, interpersonal skills and do better in school.
The U.S. Department of Education found this is because reading outside of school gives kids greater overall knowledge than others that only read as part of their schoolwork. Independent readers also score higher on their achievement tests (in all subject areas).
Parents and kids can appreciate the impact reading has on stress. Research shows that reading for just six minutes can reduce stress levels by as much as 68 percent.
How It Works
The Mom & Kid Book Club is also a unique example of improving two individual events by combining them and making them easier to accomplish in the process. It’s as simple and flexible as traditional book clubs, with a few added considerations to accommodate boys and girls of different ages and reading interests.
“As a group we pick one book for the women to read,” says McGahey. “Since we have a mix of boys and girls from four to 11 years old, they are allowed to pick their books individually. After they are done reading a book, they take a turn to tell everyone in the club about it.”
To help make the events fun, food and drink is served and each kid gets a blank, hard-backed notebook to use as their reading journal. The kids customize their journal cover and, depending on their age, they do any number of activities in their journal.
“My youngest is four and, after reading a page or two, she draws letters and a picture in the journal,” says McGahey. “My eight year old writes a page or two on any topic their book might inspire.”
If any of the kids in the club are already involved in a reading program like a summer reading challenge from their school or public library, this club is a great complement.
“The club is inspiring our kids to read for a number of reasons,” says McGahey. “And since they know the events are a big deal, they are excited to spend this special time with their parents.”
How to Start Your Own Book Club
If you’re interested in replicating the success these Moms are having, here are a few steps to follow.
Timing Is Everything: If you don’t pick a time of the week and day that’s optimal for all involved, it will be hard to have the event consistently.
Make It Fun: Find ways to make this time stand out for the parents and the kids. Snacks and drinks are a great start. Any special items, like personal notebooks, are sure to get the kids looking forward to the event.
Keep It Flexible: While making the club meetings a regularly occurring event is important, keep them simple and flexible. Everyone’s sure to have schedule conflicts. The ability to move the date and location is important. For example, meetings can be held at any member’s home, the nearest public library or even a coffeehouse. If the club has just a few rules established to help it succeed, moving the event from time to time should be a simpler task.