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My daughter and her friends decided to start a virtual book club last year. They belong to an online school (before it was cool!) and are scattered all over the country. They are passionate students, a bit geeky, and had a great time. As I overheard their discussions, I was so grateful for beautiful books and good friends.
With Covid-19 and quarantines in effect right now, I thought I would share how they did this, so you could suggest it to your teens. Not only can they extend their education and try something new, but it also gives them a chance to connect with friends, when they otherwise can’t.
This idea is great not just for friend groups, but also for extended families or any other group you’d like to connect with. This could be a beautiful time for your children to be mentored by loved ones, who might also be lonely.
1. Decide what platform to use
If it’s just two of you, Apples’s Facetime app on iphones will work well. If your book club will have more than two, I suggest using Zoom. My kids have been using Zoom in their online school for years. Professionals use it all the time, and it is free if for meetings of 40 minutes or less. (If you need more time than that, you can start another meeting immediately after the first one ends, or upgrade to a paid plan.) Marco Polo, another cellphone app, works as well if you don’t necessarily want to meet in real-time.
2. Decide on a booklist
Below, I will list what books my daughter’s group used. Many of them can be pretty intense either because of their reading level or subject matter. If you are in quarantine and emotions are running a little high, you might want to add in some lighter books. I’ll post a list of those below, too.
Be sure to check out this post for ways to get free or cheap books.
3. Decide on a reading schedule and meeting schedule
Do you want to read the whole book through first, before you talk about it? Read a couple chapters a day and then discuss each day? Do whatever feels doable and make it something to look forward to!
- The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho : A parable of following your dreams
- Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton: Named as the single most important novel in South African literature. Heartbreaking and important.
- Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No and Take Control of Your Life, by Cloud and Townsend: Teaches how to set boundaries in your life and still be a good person.
- Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl: A psychiatrist who survived life in a concentration camp shares the meaning of life, how to cope with suffering, find meaning in it and move on.
- As A Man Thinketh, James Allen: How thoughts determine our character. Quite short.
- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I learned to live a better story, by Donald Miller: A man is not living his best life when a producer wants to make a movie about him.
- Scary Close: Dropping the act and finding true intimacy, by Donald Miller: After recognizing a pattern of unhealthy relationships, the author finds the keys to accepting himself and having healthy relationships.
- The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict. by the Arbinger Institute: How to find true peace in ourselves and our relationships.
- Leadership and Self Deception, by the Arbinger Institute: becoming a leader by tapping into what is right and acting on it.
- Atomic Habits, by James Clear: Recognizing and changing our habits can change our life.
- Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris: Challenging teenagers to resist cultural norms.
- Linch Pin, by Seth Godin: How to make a significant impact
- 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey: A classic for everyone
- The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis: Insights into how the devil may do his best work. Fascinating, funny and serious!
- Summer of the Monkeys, by Wilson Rawls: My favorite about a boy, his dog and a bunch of sly monkeys.
- A Long Way from Chicago, by Richard Peck: Siblings spend the summer with their grandma- who is a terrible influence!
- A Fine and Pleasant Misery, by Patrick McManus: A true redneck and his adventures camping, hunting and fishing.
- NeverMoor, by Jessica Townsend: A cursed girl escapes death and finds herself in a magical world. Very Harry Potter-ish
- Alcatraz Verses The Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson: About a boy to breaks everything, and finds out it is a talent instead of a curse.
- The Wish Makers, by Tyler Whitesides: A boy opens a jar of peanut butter and releases a genie. He gets unlimited wishes, but must accept the consequences.