Book Clubs Can Inspire a Love of ReadingReading for pleasure is a pastime enjoyed by many; however, adults with lower levels of literacy often only have books written for younger readers to choose from.
A wonderful example of how the pleasures of reading can include adult learners is the book club started by two volunteers at RECLAIM Literacy Council. Mystery enthusiasts Janet Willard and Grace Saabas both enjoyed talking about the books they read in book clubs. They decided to give RECLAIM learners an opportunity to relax with a book and read for pleasure outside the lesson format by starting a new book club. As fans of Louise Penny’s full-length novels, Willard and Saabas chose Penny’s The Hangman from the Good Reads selection for their inaugural book club title.
One RECLAIM learner who initially claimed he didn’t read fiction became interested in joining the club once he discovered that the book was a mystery. The characters and clues in the story caught the attention of the club participants right away, and kept them motivated to read to the end. Says Willard, “Grace and I both enjoyed seeing them come back each time and be so keen to guess what was going to happen next… the book club was a fun way to get more people reading.”
Although the participants ranged in ability level, it wasn’t a problem for the club. The most advanced reader who finished the book quickly and re-read it twice respected the club pace of three chapters every two weeks, and didn’t spoil any future events in the story for other members. The member with the most reading difficulties got help at home to keep up with the group, and enjoyed being able to discuss the latest developments and clues with the other club members at each meeting.
For other literacy providers interested in forming a book club for adult learners, Willard recommends carefully choosing a book with clear language that’s appropriate for all levels. The Good Reads books are accompanied by reading guides, which proved to be an invaluable tool for the book club organizers. Says Willard: “It got us talking about character, setting and plot and kept us focused so we didn’t go too far off tangent.”