Reading for pleasure has many known health benefits, and a book club is a brilliant way to maximise your enjoyment. Members meet to share their passion for literature and reduce symptoms of stress and depression in addition. What’s not to like!
Books2All Friend and author, Diane Chandler, knows a thing or two about book clubs:
“I absolutely love being part of a book club and I would like to see more of them in schools. For me, the next best thing to reading a book is discussing it with others – sharing your own view and listening to those of your friends.
“I know of a couple of school book clubs and I think they’re a wonderful way for children to read an engaging story that sweeps them away from their everyday lives. Then they can both articulate their thoughts and hear others’ views about the book. They expand their knowledge and make new friends along the way.”
Of course, meeting new people can be stressful, but book clubs naturally help people relax socially as they share their passion with like-minded others. Research shows how joining one improves communication skills, leading to increased connectivity with others and reduced loneliness. You are likely to become more empathetic and compassionate too.
As with everything else, the pandemic challenged the viability of the traditional book club. During lockdowns, these valuable social meetings were curtailed to outside gatherings and at times could not take place at all. Thankfully, we live in the internet age, where virtual alternatives to real-life events can save the day. Online resources flourished and reading groups are no exception.
A 2020 article in the Guardian acknowledges the unsurprising rise in online book clubs. People crave comfort during times of stress and a good book is where many find solace. Whether you’re an experienced adult reader, or just starting your reading journey, there really is something out there for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the best online book club resources available now.
Book club resource 1: Scholastic
Scholastic children’s book club is an excellent resource for helping children find the right book for their age group. It keeps prices low, making books accessible to children from all backgrounds. Schools can host a Scholastic book fair, after which a leaflet is sent home with every child from which parents and children can look and choose books together. Significantly, children who self-select their reading choice are five times more likely to finish the book.
Every order from the Scholastic Book Club earns a 20% commission to spend on books and resources for the school, so it’s a win-win! An inbuilt online feature allows children to talk to the Scholastic Book Wizard, from which they receive recommendations for a story that suits them. It really is a great way to introduce children to the magic of reading and the joy of belonging to a shared interest group.
Book club resource 2: Book Clubs in Schools
Book Clubs in Schools hosts lively and jam-packed book clubs for secondary and primary schools. It creates a pathway for young people to discover the world through reading for pleasure and communication with their peers. Members learn skills they can take into adulthood, and build their confidence through an exchange of ideas about reading. Books provide children with an often much-needed escape from the stresses of modern life and Book Clubs in Schools embraces that by encouraging pupils to expand their imagination.
The concept takes the existing idea of a book club and adapts it to fit in with school life. Book clubbers all read the same book and then discuss it in meetings with leaders who are usually older pupils. It’s a mutually beneficial system that allows leaders to receive training that boosts their social and performance skills, while younger pupils learn to form thoughts and ideas and express their opinions. A lovely resource that promotes the benefits of reading as well as improving children’s critical thinking abilities.
Book club resource 3: Reading Groups for Everyone
Run by the Reading Agency, Reading Groups for Everyone is for anyone who wants to share their love of reading. You can sign your reading group up through the website and receive access to a plethora of resources to discuss, including weekly newsletters and bulletin posts. Or, using the postcode tool, you can join a reading group in your area and meet like-minded people who enjoy books as much as you do.
Reading groups also have the chance to receive books for their group from publishers and authors in exchange for leaving a review and contributing to the running of the site. This resource is ideal for those who want to keep socially active and also gain access to some superb reading choices.
Book club resource 4: Goodreads: UK Book Clubs
It’s for good reason that Goodreads is well-regarded as a fantastic resource for keeping track of your own reading, following the literature choices of your friends and finding your next favourite book. But you might be surprised to learn that inside this great website is UK Book Clubs: a group that inspires you to read the same book with kindred spirits. As a member, you can add a book to the group’s bookshelf and make recommendations to other users on what to read next.
Authors have a dedicated page to share their own works with booklovers and gain some honest and insightful feedback in return. Kindness is always encouraged in the Goodreads community and, through this club, you will become totally submerged in an intoxicating world of books, reads and writers. Take a look at the many noticeboards where others have discussed and critiqued their reads; you’ll find a multitude of ideas for your next choice.
Book club resource 5: Poppy Loves Book Club
Women can sometimes struggle to find safe spaces that feel truly their own but Poppy Loves Book Club aims to do just that. Originally part of Poppy Loves London – a blog founded in 2010 about all things cosy and comforting in London – Poppy Loves Bookclub provides an online bookclub community for anyone who identifies as female to come together and make new friendships. There are book sections to suit all interests, from home and décor to lifestyle and fashion. A safe and comfy space to kick back and relax, no matter where in the world you are.
Book club resource 6: Tough Guy Book Club
Possibly as far from cosy as you can imagine is the Guy Book Club, which describes itself as ‘like a fight club but for your mind’. Founded in Melbourne Australia, it aims to bring ‘decent conversation’ back into pubs and encourage blokes to broaden their horizons when it comes to reading. You will see the next meetup advertised on Facebook and you are encouraged to turn up, whether you’ve read the book or not.
Although it flagrantly encourages men to get down with a book and a pint and discuss their thoughts properly, Guy Book Club aims to smash the stereotype of what it means to be a man by unashamedly encouraging guys to learn new things and free their imagination. Members must be over 18 as the meetings are held in pubs and bars, but any chap over that age can tag along. If you identify as male and want to try something totally new, this is the book club for you.
We hope you are convinced of the abundance of rewards book clubs can bring., but if you need any final words of encouragement, we leave you with Diane Chandler:
“I began to host an online book club in lockdown last year and we are still going strong. We have around 20 members, meet on Zoom for just one hour each month, and we all love sharing our own views and listening to opposing ones. The emphasis is on fun, a good debate, and the chance to lose yourself in another world. We have all got to know each other well and have become good friends through talking about books.”
Thank you for visiting our blog. Our vision here at Books2All is a world where every child finds the books that help them reach their true potential. If you have spare books in good condition at home that you think might be appropriate for school children or represent a school and would like to register to receive donated books, please download the Books2All app from the App Store or Google Play.
Cover image courtesy of freepik – www.freepik.com