By Kathy Mansfield

Myria Ironmonger, library media specialist at Nicholasville Elementary, and Rachel Staub, children’s services outreach librarian for the Jessamine County Public Library, partnered during the 2015-16 school year to introduce students to virtual book clubs.

9-8-16 LIBRARY Jessamine Library LogoTraditional book clubs bring readers together to participate in face-to-face discussions about a book and its themes. Virtual book clubs, however, can bring together a wider variety of participants from multiple locations at all times of the day to interact with each other through online discussions and video feeds to discuss books.

During the fall, Staub introduced students in 4th- and 5th-grade classes to books proposed for the interactive discussions. Students signed up to participate and final participant selections were based on student Internet access (from home or from a classroom), reading ability and teacher recommendations. Students in the 2nd and 3rd grade participated in the virtual book clubs during the spring.

The two librarians held a “Lunch Book Club Kick-Off” to distribute books to students and to review directions and guidelines about posting to the WordPress blog set up for the online discussion. Students responded on the blog to weekly questions about designated chapters. A family wrap-up party brought participants and parents together for food and activities based on the book.

Ironmonger recommended routine “check-ins” with students who might not remember to blog each week or who might have questions about the process. She also suggested sending reminders to parents if students haven’t participated after two weeks.

“One of my favorite aspects of the online book club is seeing the students and their families interact during our wrap-up parties,” said Staub. “I find it validating to be part of something that helps families create positive, fun memories together.

“For example, we’ve had grandparents bring grandchildren to tea parties, dads help daughters make journals with scrapbooking materials and younger siblings contribute to Lego building projects. This level of family engagement was not something I anticipated when designing the online book clubs that we have offered, but it is an incredibly positive element that I would like to continue to foster when planning future wrap-up parties.”



Myria Ironmonger

Rachel Staub