Reading Clubs

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A Guide to Reading Clubs

Many students in Ghana perform poorly in school and on their BEC exams because they are unable to read and comprehend the English language which is the basis of the national curriculum. One of the best ways to help students improve their English skills is through reading. Reading Clubs provide a comfortable and supportive environment for students to practice reading and writing. While there are several ways to organize a reading program, this guide features examples of activities and methods that have found success for many students.

Implementation

When forming a reading club it is important to decide the specifics of the club: when and where the club should meet, what students should be included, how the club should operate, etc. These details can be decided by the volunteer and staff at the chosen school. Supplying the books is also a major part of implementing the club. If the school does not have a library or source of quality reading books, there are a variety of resources available to volunteers in need of book donations. Please see the appendix for these contacts. Some important things to keep in mind:

  • Form 1 students at JSS schools are usually most in need of improvement! While every student should be given an opportunity to read, make sure to focus on those who need it most.
  • Small groups of students are easier to manage. Make sure the group is large enough to be able to split into groups for reading circles.
  • Including older students as mentors and translators is beneficial for everyone. Many younger students also have difficulties understanding spoken English.
  • Keep the length of each meeting brief enough to retain the students’ attention and active participation, but long enough to provide students with adequate reading time.

Meeting Activities

The first few meetings of the club should be introductory and basic. If you have never met the students before, begin with small ice breaker activities to get them comfortable being around you and around each other in a less structured environment. Schools in Ghana are very structured and students will not be used to an environment with open ended questions and ’thinking outside the box’. Listed below are some fun activities to use in your club:

Bookmarks - Bring blank slips of paper and crayons to the first or second meeting. Have the students color and write their names on the papers. When club meetings close, have them leave their bookmarks in the books they are reading in order to continue the book at the next meeting. The bookmarks are also a good indication of attendance.

Solo Reading - While this is the ideal reading club activity, it will get old and boring fast. Create a reward system based on the amount of books the students read. To make it more complicated, place stickers on books that are considered difficult. Require students to read at least one sticker book in order to get their reward. Students should also be asked to fill out a form about the book to check their comprehension (an example of a form is in the appendix).

Reading Circle - Ask the students to get in groups of 3-4. Give each group one book and ask them to take turns reading one page at a time out loud to each other. The students should also be given a piece of paper to write down words they do not know or understand (they can consult you, fellow students, or a dictionary). When the students finish reading the book, have them present the story to the entire class. Class presentations can be done in various ways (see below). Students should also present the difficult word list to the class and explain the found meanings to everyone.

Read Out - The simple idea of ’reading out loud’ can be done in many ways. Ask one student (at a time) to read to the entire class. Read to the entire class and have students ask questions following each page. Form a classroom reading circle and pass the book around for everyone to read out loud. Read out loud, outside.

Multimedia exchange - Some club time should be dedicated to other forms of the printed word besides books. The Daily Graphic has a junior edition with articles of interest to students. You can also bring in magazines, comic books, etc.

Poetry - Introduce students to poetry. Explain rhymes and rhythm and have them write their own poems and read them to the class.

Illustrate - Talk about illustrations in books. Have students draw a scene from a book. Can expand this and have students create their own short picture books.

Dictionary - Always bring a dictionary to club meetings for reference. Place one student in charge of looking up words for everyone each meeting and writing them down. Keep an ongoing list of words the students have problems with and hold monthly spelling bees or spelling quizzes with these words for prizes.

Plays - After many books are read by the students, decide as a club on a book to reenact as a play for the school or community. Create costumes, sets, dialogue, etc. Be creative and have fun!

Comprehension Checks

Form 1 students are not always required by teachers to comprehend everything they read. Memorization is how most students complete their English assignments and prepare for exams. It is best to check their comprehension of the books they read. This will make reading more enjoyable for the students because they will understand the books and learn how to understand their school assignments.

Solvable Problems

Be prepared for confusion, lack of participation, shyness, boredom, fear, etc!!!

Students are not used to performing or presenting anything in front of their fellow students. Encourage them to speak loudly and make eye contact. The more they do this the more comfortable they will feel and the more their oral skills will improve.

All ideas based on the Anamase Reading Club

PC Resources

Darien Book Aid

dba.darien.org
1926 Post Road
Darien, CT 06820-5805
(203) 655-2777
Sends a 50 pound box of requested types of books.

Books for Africa

Books For Africa Office
253 East 4th Street, Suite 200
Saint Paul, MN 55101 USA
Phone: 651-602-9844
Fax: 651-602-9848
E-mail: bfa@booksforafrica.org
Best for supplying large quantities of books for libraries.