Book Clubs

Parent Q&A

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  • Reading club for a 3rd grader

    (3 replies)


    I am looking for a reading club for my soon to be 3rd grader. Any recommendations or suggestions will be great. Would also love to start one if anybody is interested. I struggle to find the right books for her all the time..hence am looking for a club..where she can experience different genres and engage more in them. Thanks

    I would start with your local children's librarian! The public library is a great source for this kind of assistance. If your local branch doesn't have a children's librarian, find a bigger library that does - they are a wealth of information and can easily suggest all kinds of genres for your daughter to try! There are also great reading lists online - just google 'best books for kids age (fill in the blank). Good luck!

    I started one when my child was in 3rd grade. Basically asked half a dozen parents I knew — not necessary close friends but kids who liked reading. The way we chose books when they were young was for each child to have a month. They would bring 3 or 4 books and we would vote for one for the next month. I kept expecting the group to end in high school or college but it is still going 15 years later. It is helpful if some of the parents were English majors. 

    I second the recommendation for your local public library - our children's librarian used to run a monthly book club at the library for 3rd-5th graders before the pandemic. Libraries are just starting to have in-person events again, so if your local branch doesn't currently have a kids' book club but has a children's librarian, maybe they'd be open to starting one. Or if your school has a librarian they might be open to helping you organize something, or at least recommending books - librarians love to recommend books!

  • Book Club for 4th Grader

    (1 reply)

    Hi I'm seeking a book club for my daughter to join this Fall! While she is in the 4th grade she reads at about a 6th grader level. She is missing the discussion piece:-) I also have a kinder daughter that I'd like to join a book club as well. As she is just starting out with literacy it would be great if she could have the discussions or book related activity coupled with it. Happy to start/host this group if there isn't one already if so can someone please connect me.


    I'm not sure where you're located, but our local library (Montclair/Oakland) has a book club for 4th-6th graders where kids read and discuss a book each month with the children's librarian.  Maybe you could see if your local branch offers something similar.  Or starting your own sounds like fun, too - I've known a couple people who did successful mother/daughter book clubs with a group of friends.

Archived Q&A and Reviews



Looking for a book club for young adults

Aug 2009

Hi All, My 23 year old babysitter mentioned that she was looking for a book club to join. Does anyone know of any in the Oakland area that young 20s can join? Or how she might go about looking for one? She recently graduated college and would like to expand her social circle and thought this would be a fun way to do so. Thanks!

Try A Great Good Place for Books in Montclair. They have some very cool and very knowledgeable young women working there who may be able to direct you to an existing group or help you start your own. I think they also offer discount on books that groups order through their store. Lise

You mentioned she's a recent college graduate. My book club was organized by my college's local alumni club. Maybe she could contact her college's alumni group and see if they have something similar, or an email list she could use to announce the formation of a club? Our club is a really fun group because we all have the experience of going to the same college in common, but members are a range of ages and interests and bring a lot of different perspectives to the books we read and discuss. Fran

Know of a book club I could join?

Nov 2008

Does anybody know of an existing book club that I could join? I checked the Albany Library, and they don't have a book club. I'm looking for a 1x/month book club, that meets in the evening. There's one at the YMCA, but it's during the day, and filled with retirees. Any direction would be great. Thanks. Love 2 read

Check out the Yahoo group ''Bay Moms' Book Club''. It's a group of us who meet every 1.5 months or so that you might be interested in!

Book Club doesn't read the books! Argh!

May 2006

OK. I've had it up to here. I belong to a book club, which I joined because I do like to read. But the problem is - no one ever reads the book. The plans for us all to get together are so elaborate - dozens of emails are sent back and forth about plans on food to bring (themed to what the book is about, though I have no idea how they know what to eat since they don't read the books), etc, etc. Still - no one seems to have read the book. One time, literally 60 seconds were spent on the book, and the rest was all about drinking wine and cackling about how great ''Book Club'' is.

Have other people experienced this? At this point, it's just a glorified wine club, but I can't really get out of it because a girl I went to high school with invited me to join after I hadn't seen her in YEARS. And don't get me wrong - I like wine. But this seems so stupid. Is everyone's book club like this? Am I just a stick-in-the-mud that should be happy with my wine and book with dog-eared pages that goes unused? Anon.

I've belonged to three different book clubs in the Bay Area so I have some experience with this phenomena. The first one was very much like the book club you describe, except we were expected to cook a gourmet meal for the club members *and* discuss the book (this was mostly a ''couples'' book club with a few singles as well). A few times, no one read the book (''Light in August'' by Faulkner comes to mind...). After having spent an entire Sunday cooking when it was my turn, I just could not keep up with the time commitment and we left after about six months or so... The second club was a mixed bag, sometimes almost everyone read the book, sometimes not. It was very frustrating coming to a meeting to discuss the book, especially a couple of times when it was a book I really loved, and then having no one to discuss the book with. I feel your pain on this one. I decided to leave that group mostly because I just didn't really click with the other club members. The third, and final, book club I joined was with a small group of women with nothing in common. It fell apart quickly.

My hunch is that if you can find a small group of people with somewhat similar/ complementary interests, and if you can come up with guidelines that everyone can agree to, this can work. I am sure there must be people in the Bay Area that have book clubs like that, maybe you will be lucky and find one of those groups to join.

My advice on your current situation: find an excuse and get out. If you don't, you're going to end up really resenting that long lost friend. It's just not worth it to do stuff that you don't enjoy Love to read... but not a book club person

Your question about the book club made me smile. I belong to a so called Book Club too in which the stated rules are that we don't discuss the books! We just trade them and have a beer. It's just a good excuse to leave the kids with daddy and get out of the house. If you are really craving intellectual discussions you should find a different book club. In the meantime since you can't ''get out of'' this one, chill out and enjoy the wine and company.

I am *so* with you on this one! I've been in several book clubs and have sworn them off for good. Too gossipy and no real substance to the discussion. The ''highlight'' was when we got to vote to see who liked and didn't like the book. Oh please, how lame is that?! I miss graduate school intellectual debate about characters, plots, plot devices, social implications, etc... Now I read what I want to read, when I want to read it and I'm SO much happier! As for getting out of your bookclub...perhaps you can politely tell your friend that you'd like to still get together with her for lunch/dinner/coffee...but that you need to take a break from bookclub Book lover!

I think your book group is fairly typical. My book group became an excuse for a bunch of women to get together and catch up each month. The social aspect of it seemed more important to people than the book reading. To try and keep people reading and talking about the books we often used the book group guide at the back of the book or on the publishers website. This helped structure the conversation a bit more so people didn't get off topic. We also assigned one peson to be responsible for the book discussion each meeting. They would bring the conversation back to the book and/or the discussion guide. But in the end it really depends on the type of social gathering people are interested in. Good Luck! -- Book Reader

If you are serious about really discussing the books you read at Book Club, then find yourself another book club; you joined this one because you hadn't seen your friend in a long time, but it seems like the desire to read books is more important than socializing. I think probably most book clubs are as you describe, and it's a nice way for many women (esp. mothers who can get away for a couple of hours) to get together. If you yourself have read the book, then isn't that enough - the fact that you were motivated to read it, and then to be able to hang out with friends? If you don't consider these people your friends, then you should look for another book club bookclubber who enjoys wine and dinner with friends

People join book clubs for many reasons, and over time the reasons change. Over years, book clubs I've been in have evolved into: 1) more serious study of books, 2) increasingly relating the books to one's own personal life - deeper trust but less focus on the ideas in the books 3) food/social event, 4) singles club, 5)professional networking. I was in a group that was perfect for me for a couple of years, but over time I changed and it changed, I was more into reading and it didn't matter if I met single men, others were focused on balancing the club by sex, some members left, I missed the exciting discussions, I left. Groups evolve as they do, and in situations like yours, I try to informally check out whether there are a few like-minded members. If not, either you have to find a new crowd, or see if it's time for splinter groups. Been there, read the books

How about you write this book club off as just a social event and start another, where people actually read the books and discuss them as well as socializing? I'd join, if you're anywhere near me!

I'm not organized enough to run one, but when I ran a post a few years ago, looking for a book club, several people nearby said that they would join one, if I organized it. I just didn't have the energy, but I'd consider being a co-sponsor. I bet, if you're more of a leader than I, you could gather some people and start one of your own. I know I'm still hoping to run across one to join! -Pam, an Albany mom

I've noticed that the emphasis (book, wine, food, gossip) just depends on the members, and it sounds like your club is not the best fit. If you're interested in joining a different one (we enjoy our food and wine but DO talk about the book!), email me Lyn

How about saying to your friend: ''I appreciate that you invited me to join this book club, since we get to spend time together, which is something we haven't done in YEARS, but I'd like to bow out of participating in the club, since I find myself disappointed when I spend time reading the book and preparing for the discussion, only to find that not that many other people in the club are as interested in reading and discussing the book. Let's definitely continue to get together socially outside of the book club.'' CC

I have had this same experience, but I have also heard of other book clubs that do discuss books in a very focused way. Since you seem to feel socially obligated to stick with this group, I would advise that you think of it as social club and try to enjoy it AND try to find another good book club to join. Or, depending on whether this feels comfortable in the dynamic of the group, you could try lobbying for some set time for book discussion, or suggest having rotating discussion leaders or something to keep people on point for at least part of the time. another book lover

I have a book group I love (which I'm sure isn't the same one as yours because we do spend some time talking about the book!) We all do like to read and look at the group as an opportunity to prioritize reading at least one book a month (although most of us skip a book from time to time.) But we do a fair amount of ''cackling'' also. I don't know how you can change the expectation of a group that has already abandoned the idea of reading. (Maybe see if others feel as you do? If so, see if you can agree that the 2nd 20 min. of the group will be all about the book.) But one thing we did as far as organization, that cut way down on the extraneous emails, is we picked one day of the month that we will meet every time, and if you can make it great and if not ''see you next time.'' That way we don't have endless rounds of who can make it on which days (also one can plan in advance if one is so inclined.) People in your group seem to enjoy elaborate plans about food and wine, so I don't think you'll get them to stop. It sounds like you would be happy just to get them to talk about the book a little more, and I hear ya on that. But for most of us, ''Book Club'' is also a good excuse for getting some time with friends away from our kids for one evening, so we're not going to turn it into a literature class. Good luck! --enjoys reading AND cackling

I'm coming in a little late on this one, but this response just occurred to me. I teach lit courses at Cal that tend to be rather small because my department is small. I welcome auditors, ESPECIALLY grown-ups who have read the books and won't overwhelm the student discussion (i.e., know how to hang back when needed).

I have had adult auditors in a number of my classes and as long as they are moderate in their participation (that is, not taking over the discussion) I am very happy to have them. I'm not giving my name or department because I think I'm not allowed to say this, but I don't require that people be ''legal'' auditors as long as their behavior falls within the realm I describe. This could be a way for you to get into really interesting discussions about books or films. open-door policy

How to find a book club

Sept 2005

Hello, I am interested in joining a book club but have no idea how to go about it.How often do they meet? How would I go about joining one? Thanks

Start one with your friends and neighbors! avid reader

I moderate a coed, Oakland-based book club for the Neighborhood Parents Network (an organization for East Bay parents that provides support, networking, social opportunities, information exchange, etc.) We meet on the third Sunday of every month (the 17th will be our next meeting) at Royal Ground in Montclair Village from 4-6 p.m. This month's book is A.S. Byatt's Little Black Book of Stories, a collection of short stories. The group is quite casual. We currently have 3-5 members, depending upon the month. All of us have small children, so we're sympathetic when someone is short on time. You'd be welcome to stop by the month and meet us! Stacey


Greetings...I am hoping to locate a local(Berkeley,or Oakland) book club. It seems like a fun thing to do,does anybody out there have any info?? Thanks in advance. Danielle

I have noticed on several occasions that Neighborhood Parents Network's (formerly Neighborhood Moms) newsletter has notices in for at least two different book groups. I've been thinking of investigating myself, since my book club went defunct about a year ago. Anyway, there's one that meets at Royal Coffee in Montclair and another in Berkeley. From the notices, they have different formats. I don't have a newsletter handy, but I think that it should be relatively easy to get the information. If you go, and it seems good, let me know! Wendy

Try Neighborhood Parents Network- They have a Berkeley and an Oakland book club. Call 510-527-6667 to get an application for the organization and a sample newsletter. Gab

Book clubs that focus on African American authors

March 2003

Does anyone know of book clubs that focus on African American authors? dawn

African-American owned Marcus Book Store in Oakland has a book club focusing on African-American books. Diane

try ''sistas on the reading edge,'' an african american women's book club that meets in antioch. Lisa