We ended our latest Lunch Book Club last week, and we are in the process of selecting our books for next semester’s clubs. Our school has designed three book clubs that align with our three lunches at school, and students who sign up (in time) get a free catered lunch. This is not the only book club we do, as we also participate when able with another group (known as the Somewhat Virtual Book Club) that meets after school and online.
In the beginning
I feel though I need to explain our lunchtime book clubs, maybe to inspire others. I have done these in different ways, but I like the current format the best. I have done book clubs where students signed-up and then brought their lunches to a location, usually the library. These were well attended but had an exclusive feel to them, like I was leaving a group out (primarily those whose only choice was to eat a school-provided lunch.) I’ve done book clubs IN the cafeteria where the students eat, but felt that some students opted out due to peer pressure–they actually felt they were abandoning friends by coming to my table for the book club meeting. I had some good participation in both of these scenarios, just not what I wanted.
Taking it to them…accommodating all the lunch options
I then changed it up to arrange for “bagged” cafeteria lunches, and students who planned for a school lunch could pick up a “to-go” bag lunch and bring it to the meeting location. I even arranged for a free-no-questions-asked-cut-in-the-lunch-line option for them. The problem with this format was that the book club had to compete sometimes with hot lunches that were more alluring (pizza or other hot food items) that couldn’t be brown bagged or made for transport. I lost kids to the “good” lunches regularly. (And who says kids don’t eat school lunches?)
How About Now?
Fast forward to the current format. Now we (with administrative blessings) advertise our book clubs WITH a free catered lunch. Sometimes we order out (like Pizza) but other times we use our very own cafeteria service to get a catered lunch, like chicken strips, deli style sandwiches, and/or desserts. We offer a lunch that is competitive with our cafeteria and the assorted vending machines, and best, it’s FREE for our groups that sign up in time. Note: Those who sign up late are reminded to bring a lunch.
Funding is for the most part, local
We use local fund raising and fines to offset costs, though at times we have to ask for a little help from our admin. This last time we wound up purchasing around 60 paperback books and lunch enough to feed that many. We sell flash drives and ear buds to help, and I’m amazed at how many ear buds we have sold this year (at $2 each.) Being a high school, we are allowed to charge overdue fines, but every penny is funneled into our book clubs. If students sign up by a cut off date, they get the free, catered lunch. And this year it seems to be doing the trick! We are very excited with our numbers so far this year. Best, each of us, myself, my co-librarian, and our assistant, are taking a lunch group. So it works out well.
Plans are underway for January
We are each talking about a book to use for our January clubs. My lunch is considering the book Butter by Erin Jade Lange. The other two are looking at Matthew Quick’s Boy 21 and S.T. Underdahl’s No Man’s Land. Al three of us leading book clubs will read all three titles, as we never know when we’ll possibly have to cover another’s book club group. So here’s my Christmas reading all settled. I’ve already read Butter, which was a great book! As I was working with a class on writing reviews and making book trailers using Animoto recently, I made the following as a “how-to” example from start to finish. I think I’ve made them hope they have first lunch next semester when we change schedules.
So, what works for you in your teaching context? I’d like to know.