Book Reviews Family Life Picture Books

How to Host a Children’s Book Club this Summer

If you’re a long-time reader, you know how much I LOVE Ralphie. She’s been one of my dearest friends for more than a decade and she is wonderful in so many ways. She is especially fantastic in the mothering and educating department – I am always inspired by the amazing things she does with her family and I’m so happy that she shares her wisdom through her Instagram account, Simply on Purpose

Years ago, she shared all the details about how to host a children’s book club over the summer and I’m delighted to pass it on to more families this year! If you’d like to run your own children’s book club this summer, read on for all the details. 

children's book club


Ralphie here.  I am the mother of 4 delicious chickens (girls), and one of my favorite things to do is teach them how they should feel about reading.

I do my best to maximize their interest by getting fresh books at the library every week, occupying an entire wall with forward facing book shelves, and creating a children’s book club each summer.

Starting a Children’s Book Club

The summer book club lasts for 6 weeks, and we met once a week for 2 hours.  We did it in the morning simply because I had a napper, but afternoons work just as well.

Queenie started out inviting 6 friends to participate, then the word got out and 4 more girls were added.  I also invited an older girl to be my helper.  She set things out for me, cleaned up behind me, and helped teach smaller groups when we broke up.

Each week, we had a theme.  Some of the themes that we did were: experiments, fairy tales, friendship, pioneers, classic picture books, etc.  One week, we even focused on a specific author, Bill Pete.

Children’s Book Club Agenda:

Each week, we followed the same schedule:

  • Featured Books –  This was the first part and took the majority of our time.  We would read anywhere from one chapter book to six picture books, depending on their length.  We would then talk about each one, how it had to do with our theme, and make connections to what we already knew.
  • Activity – This activity reinforced our theme.  For Experiments week, we made oobleck.  For Princess week, we had our own princess academy where they had to pass of royal acts such as waving, walking with books on their head, and smiling a lot! When we studied Bill Pete, we learned he used charcoal to draw his pictures, so the girls tried their hand at it too.
  • Snack –  This were provided by the girls’ parents.  They did an amazing job of bringing food that went along with the theme.  For our pioneers theme one mom brought homemade bread and butter, berries and beef jerky.  I found that moms were more than willing to help and it really made my job so much easier!
  • Book Talk –  For the last 20 minutes we gathered together again and I showed more themed books.  I would just briefly touch on each one, giving a summary and showing pictures, just enough to spark their interest and curiosity in the book.  I made a list of these books and sent them home each week so that the girls could check them out at the library or buy them.  This had to be my favorite part of camp.  I loved watching them get so enthusiastic about books!

Queenie was 7 (going on 8) when we created this children’s book club, but you can easily tweak things here and there to make it more age-appropriate for your child.

Our entire family has benefited from a children’s book club as the younger ones just toddled along with us.  As parents we all know it is important to teach our children how to read, but don’t be afraid to teach them to love it too!

P.S. If you came over from Simply on Purpose, you might love my Raising Readers course – it’s a FREE five day email series with lots of hands-on (easy!) ideas for making reading fun for everyone in your family plus lots of book recommendations for a variety of ages from babies on up! Thousands of families have taken it in the past year and given it amazing review – I think your family will love it too! You can sign up here!

If you’re interested in running your own children’s book club this summer, these posts might be helpful!


You Might Also Like


  • Reply Nicole May 16, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I LOVE this idea! I am a nanny/former teacher and I am tutoring two little girls in reading this summer. This is a phenomenal idea to help keep them engaged and excited. I cannot wait to get started! Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Reply Kayla May 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    This is WAY fun, and exactly the kind of thing I would have been into as a little girl! Also, LOVE the new blog design! 🙂

  • Reply Lexilooo May 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    I adore this! So, so much!

  • Reply Steph at May 16, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    Wow how fabulous is this – my bookworm self would have LOVED this as a girl too! P.S. Your blog looks awesome!

  • Reply Marnie Craycroft May 17, 2013 at 1:39 am

    Love this idea…lots of learning and fun. I would have loved this type of activity as a child.

  • Reply Brett and Emily May 17, 2013 at 2:09 am

    I love this! Thanks. Also, fabulous recipes on the other posts. You have such a great blog.

  • Reply Hohmann Family May 17, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I love this idea. I've been wanting to incorporate a book reading/writing project a few times a week this summer for my 1st and 2nd graders-to-be. If you have any suggestions for theme/authors I would love suggestions.

  • Reply Meghan May 22, 2013 at 4:17 am

    Ralphie has some awesome ideas. Glad I Got to be a part of one.

  • Reply Betty April 16, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Hi, I just wanted to thank you for the great book recommendation…I just finished Orphan Monster Spy and could not put it down…thanks!!

  • Reply Betsy Bosak April 16, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Not related to today’s post, but I remember at Christmas you had a post about neighbor gifts and was wondering if you’d consider writing a post about inexpensive teacher gifts? You always have such good ideas 😉

    • Reply Janssen Bradshaw April 16, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Oh, thanks! It’s a great idea – I’ll see what I can do!

  • Reply Heather Whitehead April 16, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    I think it is a great idea to host a summer child’s book club. I think many would benefit from a sample schedule, so we can see how many/which type of books she chose – did she stretch a chapter book over a 2 week period, or more stick to themes with picture books? Yes, just her sample list of themes + activities + snack would give a concrete example of where to start.

  • Reply Sara Gray April 16, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    I was just thinking about hosting a summer book club for my oldest daughter who is 7 turning 8 and than I hear Ralphie talking about it on her insta stories. I am excited to get a good layout of what she does for hers. I too would like a little more info or maybe a sample of the kinds of books she chose for her themes. I would really like to get my girls into chapter books this summer and thought maybe they should read before they come? Or maybe that is better for older book clubs. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Miriam April 18, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I just LOVE this idea! I agree with a couple readers above that a sample list would be great. I’m not asking you to do all the work of course. But maybe just one week and then I could use that as a template and come up on some topics for myself. Thank you for all of your great ideas!

  • Reply britt April 18, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    Wow!! This sounds amazing…. but SUPER complicated and high maintenance to me!!

    I’ve been doing a book club with my oldest for 2 years (since the summer before 3rd grade) and it’s been sooooo fun!! We invite classmates her age and neighborhood kids. We usually have 12ish kids come. We read 1 book a month all summer just like an adult book club (they read ahead) – we pick June, the vote on July’s book at the June meeting from the kids suggestions, then they vote on August at the July meeting (last year we had the August book be a book that has a movie done after it so we could do a movie night after our discussion and so they could learn the important life lesson: “the book is always better”).

    I lead the discussion and ask questions. They are really thoughtful about their answers and learn to be respectful of everyone answering and taking turns. Sometimes they come with questions THEY want to ask the group. We talk about different literary elements with every book. A parent usually voltuneers to bring a treat.

    Super fun and super low maintenance. Just another way to do it!

  • Reply Summer Activities for Kids: 6 Tips for Making the Most of Summer Break June 7, 2018 at 1:55 am

    […] friends, hosting a birthday lunch, having a craft party with the girls’ friends or having a summer book club, the quicker those get on the calendar, the more likely these fun summer activities are to actually […]

  • Leave a Reply