By Guest Blogger Aprille Donaldson

A few months ago, my then-six-year-old began insisting that he was going to start a “gang”…at church. I figured it was a passing whim. But the next week, he was armed with hand-written invitations and secret whispers to other kids to meet him after church. I think this was born out of some loneliness and that six-year-old angst that comes from trying to figure out where his place is as a “big boy” in a big world. 

Due to my current music ministry role, I leave church Sunday mornings feeling exhausted. Trying to leave church with a child insistent on meeting with his “gang” wasn’t my idea of a restful Sunday. After taking some time to talk to him and his “assistant gang leader” (or rather, the child’s mother), we decided to revisit this over text during the week and come up with a feasible plan.

My husband also came to my rescue by asking our son, “If you were going to have a gang, what would the gang be about?” Our son whose future ambition is to become a “firefighter-author” replied that he wanted to have a “book writing gang,” because he and two other boys at church share an interest in writing books. He also recently took on his own important job in our home, “The Book Meister” – he sorts library books into the proper bedrooms and makes sure they get into the library return bin when they are done. We decided to call his gang “The Book Meisters.”


Our creative ideas started flowing as I sat down with my boys for a planning meeting. He had very definitive ideas about what the gang and its meetings should include – including name tags with member roles, trivia quizzes, and prizes. The trick was to create something that would not completely flop while still making my six-year-old feel as though he were the “gang leader.” I also wanted to provide enough structure that kids aren’t bored or lost on what to “do,” but also enough freedom that their creativity can take over. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been a blast. 


Heading: The Book Meisters: A Book Writing Club for Kids

I put my former graphic design and social media experience to good use and made fliers, invitations, nametags, and even business cards with a QR code that links to our newly-minted Facebook page


I suggested that each meeting we study an author using a picture book biography. This gives us a framework on which to build our activities. 

At our meetings, we have roll call, a picture book, a trivia quiz, some sort of game or activity, and then a free time for creative writing, drawing, and coloring. We also have a “Word of the Day.” Finally, there are prizes…lots of prizes. Somehow, everyone ends up with a prize. (Not sure how that keeps happening, but when a six-year-old is in charge, well…that’s what Dollar Tree is for.) 

Our first author was Dr. Suess, using the picture book The Boy on Fairfield Street: How Ted Geisel Grew Up to Become Dr. Seuss. We followed up with trivia questions and a long but rousing game of Dr. Suess BINGO. 

Since then, each meeting has gotten better as we have worked out some kinks, like shortening the book and game time to allow for more creative time. Because we have quite a few “gang members” with younger siblings who also want to participate, we try to have an assortment of activities to meet the needs of all attendees. 

Our second author was A. A. Milne. We started by reading the picture book Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear


I found a poetry writing craftivity, and some of these kids blew me away with their creativity! 

For the littlest members we had a Winnie-the-Pooh matching game (and a young teen “Mother’s Helper” who volunteered to play it with them), and bookmarks to color. 

Our third author was Beatrix Potter. We read the picture books The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter, Scientist. Our Word of the Day was “chamomile,” and I had a pot of chamomile tea for the kids to sample. The kids got to choose from a Beatrix Potter word search, an editing assignment, paper doll creation, creative writing using Beatrix Potter writing prompts, or coloring pages.

Our first three meetings were held at Winston Salem area parks to allow for free play during setup and after club. Future meetings during the colder months will most likely be held at Reynolda Manor Library, depending on availability.  We are trying to meet every 4 to 6 weeks, and events normally last around an hour. Please check out our Facebook page for upcoming events.

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