Becky Earl from Bedford Libraries went to her first Chatterbooks session 5 years ago. She tells Reading Groups for Everyone about how she got involved and how she has kept her Chatterbooks group going:
I started working at Kempston Library in November 2006, and on my first day my boss explained that they were expecting 'Chatterbooks' in that evening and if I wanted to I could sit in on the meeting. I'd already had a mind blowing, hard-work day and I had no idea what to expect when I walked in. I was met with a group of noisy, enthusiastic children.
The meeting kicked off and I sat in the corner, overwhelmed and unsure, that is, until the discussion for the day kicked off and I couldn't help myself from joining in with them. I knew from then that I would love it to be a regular thing that I could take part in.
I became a regular face in the meetings, I got to know the kids and understood the format of it, and my passion grew with each meeting. Now 5 years on, I have been running my library's Chatterbooks for at least 3 years and it is growing strong.
Our Chatterbooks group
I run a group for children aged 9-12 which we still call Chatterbooks and I also run a Teenage reading group for those aged 13-18, this group now consists of most of the members I first met 5 years ago. They didn't want to leave when they were too old to continue with Chatterbooks.
Our groups meet once a month on a Monday afternoon and run for an hour. We start with a register and then we discuss which books they have been reading in the last month, this can take anything from five minutes to twenty; a lot depends on how much they liked the books.
Keeping inspired and having fun
I will then have an activity ready for them. Finding activities to keep them occupied can be a challenge; most of my current group have been there for a couple of years so it's hard to find fresh activities. I try to have a theme for each meeting, whether that is a particular book or something more general, it depends on what inspiration hits me or if there are any events going on. I have done a range of things from Book to Film posters and fantasy casting, newspaper articles focusing on an event in a book, short story writing, cover designing, treasure hunts, quizzes, character interviews, character debates, ghost hunts, monster studies and much more.
If I ever find myself stuck, I know I have an excellent team of colleagues around me to help and resources available both online and from publishers - don't be afraid to ask for packs/help, the worst they can do is say no!
The most important thing is to have fun, if you are enjoying it, the children are likely to as well. And don't be afraid to ask them what they want to do - after all the meetings are for them, they deserve to have a say!
We're always putting up offers, Chatterpacks, Chatterbooks Reads along with features to give you ideas for your Chatterbooks groups and we'd love to hear from you about what you'd like to see us do to keep you inspired when running your Chatterbooks groups. Either drop us an email or post comment - we look forward to hearing from you.
If you've got any tips and ideas you'd like to pass on to other Chatterbooks leaders, do let us know or post your tip below.