A book discussion group or book club is a club where readers get together to discuss a book that they have all been reading and to offer up discussion points, theories, and various interpretations of the book’s plot, characters, themes, and intentions. A book club can be run at school or college, in a local community, or in a friendship group. A book club can be hosted by a teacher or tutor or run communally by each member of the club in turn. The aim is for a book club member to read independently before everyone meets for the club and to prepare their contribution to the group.
ICC Books USA is an online book discussion club which runs several strands of clubs, with groups for various kind of students including middle school, high school, and college students. The book club runs a separate group for students at university and there’s also a general group for non-students. As a whole, ICC Books USA brings together 800-plus students from a variety of US states including Vermont, Wyoming, Maine, New Hampshire, Iowa, Alaska, Washington, Massachusetts, and Kansas.
Research on the subject of book clubs, which have only grown in popularity in recent years, has shown that both reading and participating in book clubs has a great all-round benefit for students. Of course, reading itself is a fantastic pursuit that improves comprehension, the understanding of a wealth of different people and cultures to our own – and their stories - and broadens the mind. Talking about books within a group, sharing thoughts on themes and concepts, the purpose of a certain scene, or the intention of the author in developing the story arc of a certain character, all provide a fantastic chance to really further a reader’s comprehension and appreciation of literature, and hopefully turn them into lifelong readers. Talking about books in a group can also encourage confidence in speaking in front of others, improve a student’s ability to convey their thoughts and feelings in a succinct and expressive manner, and further understand other people’s point of view and perspectives.
A positive reading experience can only result in more reading experiences for students of all ages. If a book has been thoroughly enjoyable and been a great springboard for lots of lively and meaningful discussion, a student will be more likely to pick up a book in their spare time. Book clubs can foster a delight in reading that will last far longer than the lifespan of the book club itself and turn reluctant readers into ardent ones.
Other benefits of book clubs for students of all ages:
An improved fluency in reading
In a book club, students are usually offered the opportunity to take it in turns to read aloud, and to both listen to other group members take their turn to read, as well as following along with the text as others read. Some students will find reading aloud easy; others may need some coaching or guidance in order to do it well, but the more practice a student has in reading aloud, the more fluent they will find they are and the more their confidence will grow.
An expansion of vocabulary
With every new book read will come new or unfamiliar words, which students can take time to look up the meaning of and then practice putting into their own sentences in the right context. Students can also learn the synonyms and antonyms of the new word and can compile a glossary or dictionary of all the new words they learn, referring back to them where necessary. Student discussions can also ensue related to the new words and their use, and how and why an author has used them in the text.
Development of better writing skills
Group discussions examining the meaning of a passage or parts of a book not only increases comprehension but reading and discussing books can also lead to better writing skills of all book club students. Students can take apart the structure of a book and ponder why the author chose to write what they did, where, and many passages or sentences in a book may inspire or spark ideas in a student’s own writing and guide them in how to write effective and meaningful passages themselves. As the book club continues, and further discussions take place, students can journal their thoughts or mark down the sentences or passages which have inspired them and collate them for to improve their own thought processes and writing skills in the future.
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Improvement of oral diction skills
Students during book club can learn the correct pronunciation of words and practice them. This will help with their overall use of vocabulary in verbal exercises whilst studying, and with how they incorporate vocabulary into their speech in everyday life.
Development and improvement of research skills
Books can be a great steppingstone to areas of research, based on the subjects, locations and characters featured in the text. Students may go online to further their research or interview someone connected with their subject interest and ask them for their knowledge.
ICC Books USA unites many students in its various book clubs across many states and is a great online book discussion group to help foster a love of reading and improve students’ skills in reading, analysis, and presenting ideas to others in a group situation.