Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How to Run a Tween Book Group, Part 3

I'm wrapping up my series on running a successful tween book group with ideas for activities! If you missed the previous posts, here's part 1 and part 2.

To spice up an ordinary book discussion, you can incorporate an activity that happens separately from the book discussion (I recommend having it take place before the discussion, to break the ice), or a more low-key activity that can be done while the discussion takes place. Examples of the former:

The Hunger Games: Mini Games
Hold a 15 minute mock Hunger Games with some of the skills/trials mentioned in the book. I had great success with the following three competitions:
Identify the Root: set out a variety of root vegetables labeled with numbers, and make a gamesheet for the participants to write down their best guesses for each root. Provide a mix of easy ones (carrot, potato) and more obscure (rutabaga, burdock).
Hand to Hand Combat: aka thumb wrestling. Hee.
Target Practice: participants take turns with a Nerf archery set and a target.

I awarded the winner a bag of "poison berries" (actually: Skittles) and a Kit Kat bar (Kit KAT... KATniss... yeah, I know, I'm stretching with that one. But hey, chocolate!)

The Lightning Thief: Toilet paper toga game
Divide participants into groups of 3-5. Supply each team with a roll of toilet paper. One team member serves at the model; the others use the toilet paper to dress the model in a toga. Prizes can be awarded for finishing first, originality, creative design, etc. I gave the winning team blue foods, like blue corn tortilla chips and chocolate covered blueberries, in honor of the blue foods Percy's mom likes to make for him.

Here's an example of a low-key activity that can be done while carrying on a book discussion:

Rules: Create your own word cards
One of the characters in Rules communicates by pointing to cards with words on them, and the main character notices he doesn't have certain words that truly express who he is and how he feels, so she creates new word cards for him. Hand each book group participant 3-4 small squares of paper, some colored pencils, and ask them to think of words they can't live without. They can illustrate their own, personal word cards while discussing the book, and share at the end, if they wish. Simple and fun!

Well, there you have it: my best tips for running a tween book group. I'd love to hear yours!


  1. Awesome ideas. What is considered Tweens in your library?

  2. Thanks, Shelsie! My tween book group was loosely aimed at ages 11-13. Basically, middle school age. I wasn't picky if a 9 or 10 year old wanted to join, or a 14 year old! Just as long as they were able to enjoy the book we were reading. :)

  3. Love, love, love these ideas! When we read "What They Found: Love on 145th Street" in February we made valentines. One of the best discussions we've had was over the book "I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing up in the Holocaust" I showed some online footage of other survivors that I found online and also showed my personal scrapbook from when I visited Terezin ghetto/concentration camp outside Prague.

  4. Thanks so much, Joanna! Wow, I love hearing about the activities you've done with your book group. Making valentines sounds like the perfect activity- fun and creative, but low-key enough to be done while discussing the book. Love it!


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