Making New Friends Through A Homeschool Book Club
Guest Author: Katie Artz
I remember it clearly. We were new to Memphis and knew no one. It was our first year to start homeschooling our girls, something I never once envisioned myself doing. To say I felt inadequate and scared would be an understatement. My girls were sad because we had just moved from Madison, WI to Memphis, TN, and they deeply missed their friends.
I sat crying many mornings in my bathroom wondering how all of this would work out. Would my girls learn enough? Would we find friends? In this confusion, an idea was planted in my heart. Book clubs!
I had realized after teaching my girls for a year that we all loved books, reading aloud together, doing activities to bring books to life, and we love people! We had met some friends from church and I decided to call a few of them and asked if they would be interested in meeting once a month to do family book clubs with our kids. They said yes!
The initial book club was for upper elementary aged students. We developed a book list for the kids to choose from, made some food, and organized fun activities to help bring our book to life. It was a huge hit!
We then began meeting each summer to put our book lists together for each new year. We developed book themes for each year. Some included multi ethnic/muliti cultural books or family favorites or women and men of history.
(A book about Lonnie G. Johnson, engineer, and inventor of the Super Soaker water gun)
Each month, a new child would get to choose a book from the list. We would each read the book and then get together the last Monday of each month to eat, discuss the books, participate in book activities, and have fun with our friends! We quickly realized that we wanted to utilize all the special gifts of each child and adult in our groups. Some of the adults would be in charge of food for the group on book club days and others would be in charge of preparing and leading book activities and discussions. All of our book activities would include all types of learning strengths. Some would be discussion and writing, and critical thinking. Some would involve the arts, some physical activity, some building and creating, some presenting and public speaking. There were times when we were able to take added field trips that helped bring our books to life.
(Field trip to the Discovery Park of America Museum in Union City, TN after reading a book by Leonardo Da Vinci. The museum had a special exhibit about him.)
Our first monthly book club eventually turned into two separate book clubs! Two of my girls participated in a kindergarten homeschool physical education class with Gifted Athletes, here in Memphis, TN. I developed nice friendships with the other moms who had children in the class and I shared with them my love of books. From this kindergarten homeschool physical education class, me and the other moms in the class started a “bitty” book club for kindergarten students.
Book clubs have become such a fun and engaging part of our homeschool journey. We have made new friends, read wonderful, enlightening, fascinating books, and built a community around books, food, and fellowship! My girls have enjoyed the book clubs just as much as the parents have. Book club is one of our favorite things about homeschool.
This coming fall, the book clubs mentioned in this post are ending as our homeschool journey is changing. I would love to start a new book club for 4-5 grade girls. This new book club will be dyslexia friendly and possibly meet on the last Monday of each month.
If you are interested in starting your own homeschool community friend circles, I am happy to share what we have learned or share books we have read and lesson plans we have created. This works best in groups of 3-4 families to keep it personal and include direct learning for each child during each meeting. Feel free to connect with me about book clubs!
Photos provided by, Katie Artz
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Katie Artz is a wife to Nathan and mother of four daughters, ranging in ages 5-11. Katie is a speech and langauge pathologist, and has many skills from her training in preparing book club lessons that teach all communication levels. If you would like to reach Katie regarding her new fall book club or if you need assistance with starting a new book club in your community, you may email Katie at, Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org