Creating an Intergenerational Book Club

June 7, 2021  •   LPi

Book opened on a table

Reading has always been a great way for individuals of all ages to bond. From attending story time at a local bookstore or library to reading bedtime stories to one’s grandchildren, it’s an activity several generations can enjoy together. If members of your community have been struggling to maintain contact with their family members amid the coronavirus pandemic or are interested in starting a more formal book club with their grandkids, we’ve got some ideas to help make that easier.

Story Time During COVID-19

While more and more grandparents have completed their COVID-19 vaccines and feel safer spending time with their loved ones again, there are still many who haven’t. Some seniors with chronic health conditions are still reluctant to risk contracting the virus.

For those who haven’t already tried these approaches, there are several ways loved ones can read together while maintaining a safe physical distance:

  • In person: Whether its grandparents staying indoors while grandchildren sit outside a window and read to them or both generations distancing on a patio or deck, it’s still possible to enjoy reading together. Families can purchase 2 copies of the same book or borrow them from the local library. This makes it easier to follow along but still stay 3 to 6 feet apart as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Virtual: Video chat platforms are another avenue for connecting from a safe distance. Just like they would do in person from a safe distance, families can each borrow or purchase a copy of the same book. Use FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype to read together a few times a week. The more times people use video chat, the more comfortable they will be using the technology. Your community center could even host one-on-one tutoring sessions to help people learn how to master video chat platforms.

It might also be fun to take reading to the next level and start an intergenerational book club. Depending on the status of COVID-19 in the local area, your community center could host book club meetings in person or virtually.

How to Organize and Launch an Intergenerational Book Club

  • Survey membership: Before you invest time in planning your book club, talk to your target audience. Are they interested in this type of gathering? While it can be a great way for several generations of a family to bond, busy schedules might make it tough to do. Talking with potentially interested parties might help you determine whether or not you should move forward.
  • Decide on format: If there is sufficient interest, the next step will be to decide on a format. You’ll need to take a variety of factors into consideration as you plan. How many people is it safe to invite if you meet in person? What age group of children or teens are you hoping to attract? Do you have a local bookstore or business that might help underwrite book purchases? Can you add a streaming option for others to join in from home?
  • Create a booklist: Brightly is a good resource for choosing books for your club to read together. You can search online book lists by age. They also have discussion guides the leader can use to keep the conversation moving. These can be downloaded for free.
  • Publicize the program: Whether it’s to increase the number of families who participate or to generate awareness for your community center, it’s probably worthwhile to write a press release and send it to your local media. Feel good stories like these are especially appealing to people after a long year of limiting social contact and will likely be of interest to broadcast and print media sources. If you are new to writing and distributing press releases, these tips will be of interested.
  • Take photos: It will also help generate interest in your community center if you take pictures to share on your social media channels or to include in a newsletter you may create. Using Photos in Your Newsletter is a good article to read if you are looking for insight on taking pictures.

We hope this information gives you another avenue for fostering intergenerational connections in your local community!

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