Setting up a reading group is not easy. Nor is recruiting members. But it can be a very effective way of encouraging children to read whole books – or another reading material – and to talk about it, leading them on to read more widely.
The Rugby World Cup is a great time to test the water with a POP-UP READING GROUP. These fifteen questions about running a rugby reading group that could help you to make the right choices.
Also, if you read one of my books, I can offer to answer your children’s questions by email. And send you a poster pack of rugby literacy material.
ONE: Give the reading group a good name. Calling it a reading group or a book group may put people off. Ask rugby fans at the school to name it. Think of rugby concepts. The Pack. Scrum Readers. Something like that. It will give them ownership.
TWO: Ask yourself why you are running a book group. Is it for children who love reading and you want to get them talking? Or is it for reluctant readers and you are using rugby as a way to stimulate their interest? Approach the children that you are most looking to help.
THREE: Who will the group leader be? A Rugby Reader? The P.E. teacher? A teacher with an interest in rugby? Who will the children want to join to talk about books?
FOUR: How will you promote it? Put posters in the school, the library, in the P.E. part of the school? Send letters home to parents? Ask the rugby coaches to recommend the group to their players: to say it’ll help their game. Host a big event to start the group and to build excitement around the idea. See the events and activities pages for ideas.
FIVE: How many children do you want in your group? Five may be too few. Twenty too many. The idea number for adult book groups is 10-12. But can you be sure everyone will come every time?
SIX: When will you meet? At lunch? After school? During an English lesson? When is the best time for you, other teachers and the children?
SEVEN: How can you encourage the children to come back to the next group? Is there a way of rewarding loyalty? Can you bribe them, with biscuits – or pieces of fruit? What will it take?
EIGHT: How will you start each session? Can you read the book or magazine first and jot down a few questions to ask them? Or can your Rugby Readers be charged with this task?
NINE: Do you need to warm the session up before you launch into a conversation about a book? Ask each of the group to bring a newspaper article or something off the web to tell the others about.
TEN: What will you choose to read? Will you decide? Or the Rugby Readers? Can you find something they would all like to read in this list? There are lost of different kinds of rugby reads recommended there.
ELEVEN: How can you make sure everyone speaks in your book group? If there is someone quiet, ask them a direct question, something gentle, to build their confidence.
TWELVE: Be controversial. If everyone says the book is great, that they love it, find something to criticise about it. Get the group’s passions going. Make it into a book argument.
THIRTEEN: Talk about books in a rugby way. Ask children to say why they didn’t finish a book. What was wrong with it? Can they ascribe a rugby injury to the book’s weakness? Was it slow and boring – unfit? Did not make sense at the end – a broken leg?
FOURTEEN: How will you finish? What can you do to make the children come back? Talk about what you are going to read next. Ask them to choose it for you. Keep changing what it is you read. Not only fiction. Try a magazine. Try a book about playing the game.
FIFTEEN: Does the piece of reading material lend itself to a guest you could invite to the school. A journalist? An author? Or a rugby coach if you are talking about a rugby tactics book? Having an expert alongside you would enhance the children’s experience of what they are talking about.
As I have said above, if you would like to choose one of my books, I would be very happy to answer an email with a set of questions and comments from your pupils. My Rugby Academy series details are here.
I can also send you a set of free posters and player cards for your rugby book group too. Just contact me via my website.
For more free ideas and resources about using the Rugby World Cup to encourage children to read for pleasure, please visit http://englandrugbyteachersresource.com/putting-it-into-practice/other-subjects/literacy and check out the Read Rugby toolkit. It takes less than a minute to subscribe.