To run your reading groups, you will need exciting accessible and local material to get learners engaged so that they naturally want to read on and also participate in discussion and writing activities. (Old donated books often are not quite the right material to persuade reluctant readers that reading can be fun!)
It may depend on what resources you find on how you can run your group. Here are some options:
Sets of books
One effective way is if you are able to get sets of books so that groups of learners can read the same book and then discuss it.
If you are running reading groups with this method in a big class, when they have finished with their title they can swap their books with another group.
Don’t forget the ideas for discussion and/or writing – you can get the groups to answer a short question for each session.
For this you would probably need to buy from publishers. If you are interested in this option, you could email firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of good titles.
FunDza also produced ‘funzines’ for use in reading clubs. These are magazine-type publications that actually have session plans for reading clubs at the back. These can be used in small groups or in a classroom setting.
Hard copies of these funzines are also available from Biblionef, a South African NGO that donates books to schools and clubs, and who can supply you with multiple copies. (Here is a link to their application form.)
You can download also these funzines here. If your school has tablets or computers but no connectivity, you could use them with these downloaded funzines.
There is also free online reading material available on this mobi site on a variety of themes. If you are at all able to get learners to use their cellphones, or share a cellphone between two, they would be able to read for free as this site is zero-rated. The stories have discussion questions after each chapter that you can use as well. If you are wanting more information about reading material for your learners on fundza.mobi please email email@example.com.
Reading material for home
If your groups are reading sets of books, you could let them take them home and do some reading there eg – read chapter four for Friday next week. However, if your learners are not taking the books home to read, then it would be a good idea to encourage home reading in other ways. One reading period a week will not have enough impact to really improve learners’ reading skills. They need to be reading regularly on their own.
Books for lending
Collect a set of books for your classroom library to lend out to learners. Keep a record of learners borrowing books, and try to ensure that books are returned – but do remember that is better to be lending out books – and maybe even losing a few – than it is to keep them all at school with no-one reading them.
Biblionef (mentioned above) also has multiple hard copies of other reading books such as the Harmony High series for donation purposes. These are different books with independent stories, but loosely set at the same high school. When you apply for books, you could put in a request for these too, and start a small classroom library.
If you have a school library, or a supportive local library, go and have a look at what exciting teen books they have available – and do try to find local ones. Ask if you can have their old magazines so you can build up a collection. See if you can raise money to buy books.
There is also a brand new story every week that is launched on Fridays and is the first thing on the FunDza home page. You could read the first paragraph – or chapter – of the story to pique learners’ interest at the end of each reading group session. You could even then have a quiz on the story the following week and reward readers!
It is often inspirational for young people to meet ‘real’ writers: is there a writer in your area who you can invite to visit? And, if you can then buy some of their books, this can get increased interest in reading. Or, if it’s a journalist, they can share some of their stories and get young people interested in the process of writing too. Look around in your community for inspiring human resources!