I once had a challenging experience running a book club with low-level English students in Vietnam. I wanted something that will challenge them so I chose a book that wasn’t too easy like a graded reader. I had to consider my students linguistic ability and maturity to understand and handle the content of the book.

We ended up reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling. (If you’re looking for book suggestions, you might want to check out 100 best children’s books by Book Trust.)

The students’ “homework” was to read about one to two chapters a week.  The reason being that we needed to finish the book within a semester. We usually have club once a week for one hour or more depending on how much conversation takes place.

I wrote about 5-10 reading comprehension questions and handed these out prior to the reading. These questions reviewed main points of the chapter, use of idioms, and certain vocabulary words. The hope was to start discussion, and it that worked great – at least in the first two weeks!

During the actual class, we would read the chapter over together, a paragraph each, and discuss vocabulary they didn’t know as we went along. Once the chapter was done, it was worksheet time.

I was hoping to ignite the kids’ passion in reading but they started to get increasingly bored by having to read the books. I noticed that kids in my book club weren’t that excited about the reading, but they got more into it if they knew there was a game at the end of it. So I had to turn a class designed around them reading whole books into something fun and more engaging.

I tried to spice up our reading club by using some games and activities that I already use in my regular English class. Games like Jeopardy, Sleeping Panda, Pictionary and Charades were a hit! I also made some competition-based game to review what the story is about instead of merely reading out the chapters.

For example, I divide students in two teams and line up facing each other. Two students at a time go against one another. I ask a question that is related to the chapter. The student who rings the bell first and gives the correct answer wins. Then they get to role a dice. What ever number appears on the dice, that team is awarded those points. Also, while we are reading the story I give out chocolates to the students who answers a difficult comprehension question.

Role playing was also a good idea.

As we eat lunch or have conversation in the hallway, we pepper our language with book club idioms and vocabulary. 

I also tried to find related clips from the movie adaptation that I can show in addition to class activities. It was a good motivation and also took up some of the extra time (wink!).

After we finished discussing the books, we still had some extra time to spare and so we did the Book Trailer Project. Doing the book trailer project required them to summarize, synthesize and analyze the book and put that analysis in their trailer. Furthermore, having students create book trailers was a great way to incorporate technology in our reading club which got them excited as well.

Club is fun most times, tedious others, depending on the time of the year.