How to connect your bright child with like-minded kids through books
By Katy Bowman
“How can our children connect with a community of readers who like off-the-beaten path children’s books (e.g. international comic book series)?”
–Ami Gadhia, member, CTY Parents Facebook Group
Consider joining a book club. They aren’t just for tea-sipping grandmas anymore, and thanks to the internet, kids around the world can easily connect with each other over the books they love — even during quarantine. Sometimes the most obscure tomes can have the most ardent fans, so an online search for fan clubs based on the books your kid loves the most is a good place to start. As with all things online, parents should regularly monitor websites to make sure content is age-appropriate.
Libraries’ doors remain closed in some cities, but many are hosting kid-friendly virtual meetups and book-discussion forums for their members this summer. In Baltimore for example, the Enoch Pratt Free Library hosts Pratt Teens on Discord, a virtual space where teens can connect, share their interests, and even get homework help.
Booksellers and publishers are also hosting virtual book activities and discussions: Scholastic hosts the Cat Kid Comic Club, a virtual space where younger comic book lovers can create their own and share them with other fans. Barnes & Noble hosts a YA Book Club with monthly selections that teens read and discuss. Your local independent bookstore might also feature a teen-friendly virtual book club; check their website for options, or visit this handy bookseller finder from Indie Bound to locate bookstores near you. Once they reopen, there’s a good chance your local bookstore staff will work with your child to plan a meetup based on a favorite genre of book.
Can’t find a book club that works for your child? Start your own. Ask their friends or classmates if they would be interested in joining them for a socially distant book chat. Or, they could start planning now for hosting their school’s best book club ever when it’s finally safe to do so. I love the advice in this Book Riot article about starting a teen book club at your school, including ideas for themes and promotion.
And if all else fails in these socially distant times, a family book club could be a surprisingly fun way to share about the books you’ve been reading this summer. You could go casual with a round-table discussion or make it extra with themes and decorations — whatever you do, just know that snacks are an absolute must. Ask pointed questions and give your kid lots of space to talk about the book they’re reading. Sometimes when a child is really excited about a book, they just want SOMEONE to share that excitement with — even if that someone is Mom or Dad.
Have a question for CTY experts about parenting and educating bright kids? Share them in the comments below or on the CTY Parents Facebook Group.