At the top of my list, for several reasons, is the Classics (book) Club. In this club your children would meet once per month, reading a book chosen by an adult the leader of the group. The rule is that the book must be a classic. In the club my girls participated in, the book had to be 50 years old. I think it's okay to go with 40, but you really need to have a rule or before you know it they will be reading Twilight!
Group by Grade LevelThe kids should be in a group with students their own age, perhaps 2 to 3 grades grouped together, like 1st-3rd, 4th -5th, 6th-8th, and high school. You may think high school students would drop out of the club at that age, but they won't if you make sure it is fun and challenging for them.
Now that you have your groups, have a list your leaders can choose from. (Note: you could have the
older group choose on rotation, but we found it worked better for the adult to choose. Try it both
ways for your group.) We personally liked to have a complete list for the year, so encourage your leaders to choose over the summer. One book we used quite a bit for choosing is A Thomas Jefferson Education.
until they are high school. Look through the list for adults. How many have you read? Another resource for choosing is Amazon. Just search for classic book for ___ grade. Be sure to check the year it was published as I've found newer books listed occasionally. I also like best-childrens-books.com, and Lit2Go, which both have a collection of classics to read right on their site.You may have occasional challenges getting the books from the library. In Maryland, where I'm from, we could check out books for 3 weeks through the Inter-Library system (borrowing from other counties), but in Florida, we can only keep them for a week, and the librarians will scowl at you for even asking. (Don't get me started!) You might try ebay as we have bought books for a couple of dollars there. See if the group would like to do it together as sometimes you'll find several copies from one seller.
Discussion QuestionsNext, search through Google or your preferred search engine for discussion questions. If you can't find questions (and I think this will be rare) you could come up with 10 questions on your own. 30-45 minutes of discussion works well. You will be surprised at how in depth these discussion can go! On the other hand, you may have to keep the younger kids focused. About.com has an entire guide just for classic literature where you can even find generic discussion questions. Subscribe to the newsletter.
Theme and FoodFinally, have a theme based on the book. Food was always a big part of our groups. If the book is historical, find foods from that time period. Have the students sign up to bring a snack at the first meeting. You might try to encourage someone who is very creative (or has a creative mom!) to bring the snack the first month. This sets the stage and encourages other students to start thinking about what they might bring for their turn. Again, if the books are chosen in the beginning of the year, students will have plenty of time to think about what they might do. Printables are also available online for classic books. You will run into paid sites, but if you keep looking, you'll find plenty of freebies.
A few of my favorites for discussion questions:
And a couple for printables:
Teaching Resources Classroom jr.
Please share other resources about reading the classics in the comments!
I'll be sharing part 2 about a Classical Music Club in the next few days. This club can be so much fun! And remember, if you are homeschooling, this can count as music. My girls learned so much about classical music that adults are usually blown away by how much they know!
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