Do you remember the first time that you were really moved by a book?
Something between the pages that stuck in your mind for the sheer relevance that it conjured or perhaps a certain character that instantly inspired you?
Alice in Wonderland ponders, ‘Who in the world am I? Ah that’s the great puzzle!’ (Good question Alice!) Through stories and their discussion, we can encourage our children to ask their own questions, to consider their own feelings; by talking about their beloved characters and the situations that they face amongst the pages.
It might be Harry Potter helping them to reflect on the anxiety of growing up; Matilda to discuss appreciating others; or considering perseverance in Malala’s Magic Pencil(a fairytale based on the true story of Malala Yousafzi—a global campaigner for educational rights). Stories can often help our children to understand difficult topics in a positive way and begin to build their own character consequently. At Book Clubs in Schools we are the place where characters build character!
“We aim to help all young people engage with the wider world through developing their character and communication skills along with a love of reading.”—Beth Ginsburg and Alison Palmer, Co-Founders
Our work impacts on the children involved by helping them to build character skills such as emotional intelligence, empathy, resilience, perseverance and confidence too. We do this by very thoughtfully selecting our books to ensure that these themes (and more) are present for the students to explore and discuss.
We create a fun and inclusive environment where everyone respects one another along with their individual opinions. We encourage the students to agree that it’s okay to have different opinions and that they can debate these perspectives with kindness and respect. (Perhaps these kids can now give a few adults a run for their money here!) These sessions instil the emotional capability and compassion toward others that set the foundations of a strong character.
We encourage improving communication skills as much as possible through face-to-face conversation and discussion in our clubs. In the age of the smart phone and social media we know as well as you do that this is becoming of such heightened importance for our kids. We want to ensure that the character skills that they need for real life communication are not lost somewhat in the wilderness of the technological age!
It is not only the younger Book Clubber who are mostly reaping the benefits, but also the older student leaders who we train on how to facilitate our book clubs and provide weekly discussion questions. The Book Club Leaders can use their experience to fulfil the volunteering criteria of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, include it in their personal statement and UCAS form or list it on their CVs. They are gaining both leadership and problem solving skills whilst engaging in our ethos of promoting a love of reading for pleasure- something that has been widely linked to positive mental health in children.
If you would like any information about how to get involved, then we would love to hear from you. Get in touch.
Happy book clubbing!
Written by Gemma Campbell