We spend a lot of time extolling the virtues of reading here on the CBLDF News Blog. Reading improves vocabulary, increases empathy, parents who read to children, even after the children can read on their own, are more likely to inspire their children to read for fun. Reading reduces stress, that alone should be the reason that reading more is near the top of our collective new year resolutions. But how do we take a desire and make it a reality? Well one way is to schedule time for reading. Another way is to create deadlines for reading. One idea that incorporates both of those ideas is joining or starting your own book club!
A comic book club (or manga book club) is a great way to carve out time in your busy life to read more. You could do it with friends, or with your family. You can ask at your local comic shop if there’s a public one going on, or mention to them that you’d like to start one. Check with your local library too! This month the New York Public Library is reading Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, check out their website to find when and where the discussion is taking place.
Some things to think about:
Who is your audience?
Are you doing this with children, adults, teens, or all of the above? Coming up with reading selections will be easier if you have an idea of who is going to join the book club. A comic book club can be especially great for any age group because the selections can be read more quickly than traditional books. This benefits kids because they read at different speeds, and adults because of their busy lives. It doesn’t matter who your audience is, as long as you know and can pick titles that are appropriate for it.
Is there a theme?
A lot of book clubs are general, just looking to read great works of literary importance. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make yours more specific. Maybe you love horror comics, or fantasy comics, or you’d like some people to discuss nonfiction comics with. Obviously a great theme would be banned books, but we’ll talk about that more later.
Where will you meet?
Figuring out the location will help you figure out other aspects of the club. Do you want to meet at different members’ houses? Not everyone has the space to host an event depending on the size. What about at the library or school? Maybe the local comic book shop has a space designed for community events? Ask around and talk to people who are interested in joining to figure out what sort of space meets your needs.
Who will pick the books?
Do you want to pick 12 comics that everyone reads? Does everyone want to take turns picking comics? Maybe there’s a list like YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens or ALA Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books that you want to tackle with friends.
On the CBLDF News Blog, we’ve encouraged the idea of Banned Book Clubs before. Well, we aren’t the only ones! DoSomething.org, a site dedicated to encouraging teenagers to mobilize efforts for community improvement, has a campaign to start a Banned Book Club, because books that have been banned are more likely to engage reluctant readers. When you sign up to participate, they’ll send tips and strategies to realize the goal of building a Banned Book Club.
And don’t forget CBLDF has put together not one, but two different free publications for starting book clubs. One for comics and one for manga! You can read both for free here or go to cbldf.org/book-clubs/ anytime to review the publications.
If you decide to embark on this exciting journey of community building and literacy advocating in the new year, make sure you tag CBLDF on social media to show us how your book club is doing. We look forward to seeing all the creative ways our supporters use their rights to read freely as often as possible!