If you and your family love to read or you’d like to start reading more together, you can start a family book club. There are many ways to leverage the power of digital tools to connect readers of all ages. You can organize a book club for a group of a dozen families, or encourage your children to share their reading experiences with cousins who live a few time zones away.
In this blog post, I’ll share a strategy for using the Flipgrid platform to do video reflections. You might have another favorite tool or prefer to use a tool like Zoom or Skype to have a live book club discussion. Video reflections shared in a collaborative space are a wonderful way to promote social reading and build a community of readers.
Asynchronous Book Clubs
If you want to host a family book club, an asynchronous book club might be a great place to start. Asynchronous simply means that you can set a time frame instead of a specific appointment for kids to participate. In my quick reference guide on Distance Learning Essentials, I share strategies for asynchronous learning in a classroom. You can use these same principles at home.
What I love about Flipgrid is how it captures the voice (and video) of kids so they can take part in a discussion, convey emotion, and respond to the contributions of other book club members. If you haven’t used Flipgrid before, you can get started by setting up a free account on their website. Next, you’ll create a page for the other participants.
You can decide how long everyone has to respond. I suggest starting off with a short prompt and a short amount of time. This can help each participant stay focused and provide concise answers. The families or kids who participate can record their responses using either a computer or mobile app. Flipgrid is Chromebook-friendly and works on any web browser. All you have to do is share the code for the page or send the link.
One special feature of Flipgrid is the ability to respond to the contributions of others. Kids can simply “like” the video posted by another book club member, or they can leave a video reply. What makes this a great vehicle for family book clubs is that everyone can participate and check in at a time that works for their schedule.
Synchronous Book Clubs
Another fun option for a family book club is to have everyone sign in and chat at the same time. You might set up a video conference for a synchronous book club where families show up at the same time. A tool like Zoom or Skype would be perfect for a video book club.
For this type of book club, you might send out one discussion question for everyone to respond to, or a handful of big ideas you would like everyone to talk about. Sending these ahead of time can help family members practice what they will say or share in a discussion. This is something to consider with kids of all ages but especially those who may be building their confidence as readers.
For example, you might select a passage from the book club book and ask everyone to discuss a connection to another book they’ve read together this year. Alternatively, you might ask kids to choose a moment from the book that was surprising, shocking, or clearly foreshadowed.
Whether you choose a synchronous or asynchronous model, a book club is a great way to get your children excited about reading.
Monica Burns, Ed.D. is a curriculum and educational technology consultant, and founder of ClassTechTips.com. She hosts the Easy EdTech Podcast and is author of Tasks Before Apps: Designing Rigorous Learning in a Tech-Rich Classroom. Dr. Burns has worked with some of the EdTech companies referenced in this article. Follow her on Twitter here.