Little Black Book Club

I had my first “meeting” for the Little Black Book Club, and it was…well, people came?  Two people. But they came! And I’m still excited about this, and feel like it will gain traction, and I’ll tell you why.

One of my coworkers also works at a book store, and passed along the info for my book club to their sales rep from Penguin Random House. The response from PRH was FANTASTIC – after filling her in on my goals and target age group, they sent me  box of ARCs for some of their upcoming YA titles for my teens to check out. She just asked that we pass along some reviews after we read and discuss them.

Not only does this appeal to my love of free things, but I’m SO PLEASED to be able to offer the books to our teens that they can read without needing a library card. There are multiple reasons a teen of ours would not be able to utilize their card (too large a fine, a family block, losing it, etc.) and getting past that stumbling block is such a big thing that I’m happy I can offer.

I’m hoping word of mouth will spread about this – like I said, I only had two teens come check it out, but hopefully once word catches on that the books are free and they’re some of the first people in the world to read them, I’ll have more interest.

It was kind of cool that, because I only had two, they could both take both of the books I had earmarked for this meeting – I paired up the books PRH sent me thematically, in case I didn’t have enough of a single title to go around; this way we could discuss similarities/differences, tone, etc. This way we can still do that, but everyone will have the same information, and I’ll be able to read along with them.

It’s been a while since we’ve been able to sustain an audience for teen book clubs – I’m hoping this is the boost we need to start back up again.

The titles we’re reading for next month are:

Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton

Developing Book Clubs – Teen Girls

I’ve already talked a little bit about how I’ve gone about revamping our library’s boys’ book club – read about that here.

For the teen girl book club, I’ve had to do a little more plotting. I’ve been able to connect easier with the guys, because I’m pretty geeky and share a lot of interests with our boys, but I have fewer points of contact with the girls.  We’re friendly but it’s a work in progress, so my big task here was to come up with a hook that they’d find intriguing.  I started by asking if it would be ok if I held meetings in one of our two study rooms, since that tends to be the place where the girls congregate – my theory was that if I set up shop where they are, I might get an audience for the first meeting just out of the curiosity of me being there.  Being based in the study room also gives me the opportunity to offer some illicit incentives, as food is not allowed in our study room and book clubs usually involve snacks.

I’m keeping my structure for picking materials loose, in order to invite lots of input from attendees. I’m picking our first book (I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter) but I’m also bringing a box (decorated with colorful wrapping paper) to take suggestions. Depending on how many I get, we’ll either vote on them or I’ll pick from their suggestions.

I’m also turning over in my head the idea of incorporating social media into the club – inviting them to instagram their reading experiences, which I could pull up to use as discussion points. I’m trying to get the teens to use our instagram account more often ANYWAY, so two birds with one stone, and all that. We’ll see.

I started this entry a while ago but haven’t gotten around to posting, which is kind of good because I just got word that I might be getting some ARC support from Penguin Random House for this club!  I definitely think being able to offer free books to the girls will be a good incentive for them to participate, since many of our teens either don’t have cards or can’t use their library cards presently. I’m in the process of setting this up through a bookstore rep that my library has a relationship with, so hopefully it will pan out!

Enter Thunderdome

I had my inaugural book club meeting this past Monday, and I think it went well! I had eight teens, which exceeded my expectations, and they were all very respectful about talking in turns and keeping indoor voices. Thunderdome went thusly:

– I had the rules written on a white board when they came in (there were not many. Basically: Talk one at a time, We vote on a winner, I’ll read/watch/play the winning recommendation), and we hashed them out as a group. I tried to keep things simple so it didn’t seem restrictive, which I think worked pretty well.

– Since it was the first meeting and we didn’t have anything specific to be discussing, I opened the floor for suggestions first thing. The big thing about THIS that I’ll be doing differently next month is to write titles down as they’re brought up.  The teens impressed me by engaging in discussion right off the bat – I thought I’d have to ask leading questions to get them talking about why they liked the things they suggested, and why they didn’t if they disagreed, but that happened pretty organically. I did start getting them to talk a little more analytically about their favorites, but once it was clear that we weren’t just naming stuff at random, that flowed really well.

– When the discussion started winding down, I wrote all the titles on the whiteboard and took a vote on which one I should experience for the next meeting. This was the trickiest part of the meeting, since it became clear that one of the teens was soliciting votes so she could win (the prize was a $5 Subway giftcard) but I’m honestly not sure that that was actually a problem? I’m going to have to give this part some thought, since I want to make sure the winner every month rotates and the same person doesn’t win every time, but I also want everyone to feel a part of the decision making process.

– It looks like I’ll be playing Grand Theft Auto 5, which will be…interesting? I’ve never played a GTA game before, so at least I’ll have some stuff to discuss with them next month. Our runners-up book and movie were The Fault in Our Stars and Saw: The Final Chapter.

The big trick will be seeing how many people show up to meeting #2! I also have to decide what the incentive will be for other people who choose to play the game with me; the $5 giftcard is the big winner prize, so I’m thinking something more like a candy bar or other snack? And then if everyone who comes opts to read/watch/play, we’ll order pizza or something. It’s a work in progress.