Thursday, October 22

Tween Book Club Activity Ideas

Just like Lindsey from Jbrary, I help run the Tween Book Club here at the library with a coworker. And, just like she posted on different corresponding activities she does with her books, I thought I'd share what I've done with mine!


Our book club is targeted at kids in grades 5 - 8 and is held at the library once a month. Our basic format includes a little video to start—such as the book trailer or an author interview—to act as an ice breaker, and then the book discussion with various questions we've researched or written ourselves.

But the best part? Snacks and activities! Let's be honest, it's usually those two elements that get our kids excited about the program...

Since there's two of us running the club, we usually have two activities to go with each book that the kids can choose between (or do both). So here are the books we've done and the activities/snacks planned for after the book discussion...

The Unwanteds
Lisa McMann

When Alex finds out he is Unwanted, he expects to die. That is the way of the people of Quill. It’s hard for Alex to leave behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted, but he makes peace with his fate—until he discovers that instead of a “death farm,” what awaits him is a magical place called Artimé. There, Alex and his fellow Unwanteds are encouraged to cultivate their creative abilities and use them magically. But it’s a rare, unique occurrence for twins to be divided between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron’s bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artimé that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate magical battle.

This book provides all sorts of ideas for fun activities, since it's all about exercising creativity. For our two activities, we first learned how to make origami dragons (much like what you see on the cover) with this tutorial. While a bit challenging, that also made it more fun. Secondly, we had fun designing/drawing/coloring our own Artime creatures. In the book, creatures in Artime include animals like rabbitkeys (half rabbit, half monkey), girrinos (giraffe and rhino), and squirrelicorns (squirrel and unicorn). So the kids chose two of their favorite animals and combined them, giving them fun names. For a snack, we let them make their own creations out of some basic foods like graham crackers, icing, and candies.

Etiquette & Espionage
Gail Carrier

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage—in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

We got to be all sorts of fancy with this book! We pulled out the fine china (well, we Goodwill-ed some tea cups) and had a dastardly tea party. With our tea and cakes, we went over some of the finer aspects of table manners and tea practices. Those who were willing even practiced the proper curtsy (or bow). But after the etiquette, it was time for some espionage. This included archery training (with a toy bow & arrow) and making a secret-code-making cipher diska tutorial and printable materials conveniently provided by the National Security Agency!

Three Times Lucky
Sheila Turnage

Rising sixth grader Miss Moses LoBeau lives in the small town of Tupelo Landing, NC, where everyone's business is fair game and no secret is sacred. She washed ashore in a hurricane eleven years ago, and she's been making waves ever since. Although Mo hopes someday to find her "upstream mother," she's found a home with the Colonel—a café owner with a forgotten past of his own—and Miss Lana, the fabulous café hostess. She will protect those she loves with every bit of her strong will and tough attitude. So when a lawman comes to town asking about a murder, Mo and her best friend, Dale Earnhardt Johnson III, set out to uncover the truth in hopes of saving the only family Mo has ever known.

Since a café plays a starring role in this book, it was pretty easy to pick some snacks. Miss Moses LoBeau loves to make peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for the café, so that was our star attraction. Our first activity, actually, involved the kids dreaming up their own idea café menu, which they wrote up in chalk (complete with prices!) on some black butcher paper we hung up. Then, because the plot is centered on a murder mystery, we played Mafia (here's Wikipedia's instructions on how to play).

The Last Dragonslayer
Jasper Fforde

In the good old days, magic was indispensable. But now magic is fading: Drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer.

What good is a dragonslayer without a dragon-slaying sword? All the kids made their own newspaper sword, thanks to this tutorial. And, because a lot of the book does deal with running a business and competing with a rather monopolistic company, we played Monopoly Deal Card Game. Which definitely moves a LOT faster than the board game. There were some kids that weren't up for learning a new game, but they enjoyed sword fighting immensely. As for snacks, we enjoyed "fizzy pop" and "yummy flakes"soda and Chex Mixsince they make a key appearance in the book. 

Roller Girl
Victoria Jamieson

For most of her twelve years, Astrid has done everything with her best friend Nicole. But after Astrid falls in love with roller derby and signs up for derby camp, Nicole decides to go to dance camp instead. And so begins the most difficult summer of Astrid's life as she struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp, hang on to the friend she feels slipping away, and cautiously embark on a new friendship. As the end of summer nears and her first roller derby bout (and junior high!) draws closer, Astrid realizes that maybe she is strong enough to handle the bout, a lost friendship, and middle school…in short, strong enough to be a roller girl.

This book was a given for us! One of the library assistants at my branch happens to be on a derby team. Working with her, we were able to get some team members to come in and talk about roller derby. They wore their uniforms, had some videos of their bouts, and answered all sorts of questions. For the activity, the team actually put the kids through a bout warm-up (stretches and ladder runs included). We also let the kids each design their own derby persona, coming up with a good nickname and costume. Snacks included what the team ate themselves before a boutprotein snacks like trail mix and chocolate milk.

The Rithmatistby Brandon Sanderson

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings, and are humanity's only defense against the Wild Chalklings. But as the son of a lowly chalkmaker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice. Then students start disappearing—kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood. Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery, one that will change Rithmatics—and their world—forever.

A whole book about drawing with chalk pretty much goes without saying that chalk will be involved in the activities. In this case, we let the kids create and draw their own ideal Chalking. For a bit more fun, we tried making a simple electromagnetic train. Granted, this steampunk book didn't exactly work off of electromagnetism, but they did get around on a spring-loaded train. Turns out, it was a bit harder than we thought, because your coil tube has to be pretty uniform and straight. Either way, we snacked on ice cream, so that made everything better.

So that's what we've done! Any videos that we watched as ice breakers were pretty easy to find through a search on Youtube or the publisher's site. Discussion questions were plentiful, as well, with some help from a Google search and our own brains. The activity has been a lot of fun and we have some dedicated attendees. I recommend trying it out!

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