Book clubs put parents, kids on same page

Love of reading grows, as does communication within the family

Family Matters

March 14, 2004|By Megan Boldt | Megan Boldt,Knight Ridder / Tribune

Every time Nat Andersen finished a book, he would run to his mother and insist she just had to read it.

After being bombarded by Nat's persistent pleas, his mother, Linda Kinkel, had an idea. What about a parent-student book club? It would give Kinkel and Nat, now a fourth grader at Columbus Elementary in Forest Lake, Minn., the opportunity to read his favorite books at the same time and to spend quality time together.

So she started a club through the school's parent-teacher organization last year. Now, Columbus has six parent-student book clubs, with a couple more in the works.

"Now I'm actually reading those books," she said. "We have something we can really talk about and focus on."

Parent-student book clubs have been popping up across the country.

Students like the clubs because they can read for fun and talk about books with their friends and parents. Moms and dads say the groups not only allow them to share their love of reading with their children but also help open lines of communication.

"I like reading the books. I like the discussions. And we can be with our friends," said 9-year-old Lucas Thorson. "I like all of it."

Columbus has about 40 parent-student pairs in six different clubs -- boys and girls clubs in grades three through six. The groups try to meet monthly.

The parent-teacher group has its own book-club library, with 32 titles in the collection. There are 10 copies of each book. The goal is to have 60 titles by the end of the year. Wal-Mart has donated money for books, and the group is applying for grants to support the cause.

Principal Neal Fox said one of the great things about the clubs is that reading isn't forced. It's a choice.

"In school, they might read Chapter 11 just because the teacher told them they have to read it," he said. "What we're trying to create here is an environment where they read for nothing more than the mere enjoyment of the written word."

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