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Ed Muston on running a School Book Club and discovering great reads

August 14, 2015

Ed Muston is a booklover from Sydney’s inner west who runs a book club for his son’s school. We spoke to him about how the book club works, where his family discover new books, and some of his recent ‘picks’ for both kids and adults.

pile of kids books low res for fbWhen the parents at Taverners Hill Infants School wanted to try ‘something different’ with their book club, Ed took on the project.

The brief was to continue to offer families the opportunity to purchase books at school, ideally with some financial benefit to the school, but to provide a different mix of books than is available in the regular book clubs. Priority is given to Australian books and to books that families are unlikely to already own.

Ed did all this by partnering with a local independent bookseller.

‘Taverners’ is  a small school with only 80 pupils in kindergarten to Year 2, which made running a bespoke club more achievable. The choice of books offered in the catalogue can be narrower than it would be for a kindergarten to Year 6 school, and it’s possible for the Principal to print and distribute catalogues inhouse.

Ed says that having the support of a local bookseller has been a must. Most importantly, they handle all the payments via credit card (Ed did explore various e-commerce options, but none were viable).

While Ed makes the initial choice of books, the bookseller gives advice on availability of each title and recommends substitutes where needed, as well as adding their own suggestions.

The bookseller also sources images and blurbs for use in the catalogues. Ed then edits these and adds his own commentary

An added bonus (and again, only possible because of the small size of the school) is that the bookseller individually bags each family’s order before delivering the books to the school!

The reaction from the school community has been very positive: Ed showed us comments from parents about the ‘fabulous range’ of books on offer.

At the bookseller’s suggestion, a sample of each book in the catalogue is now being made available for parents to view in the School Office. Parents have welcomed this because they’re now able to get a clearer sense of the reading and interest level of each book.

How the Club works:

  • One catalogue per term, sent out as a hard copy and by email
  • Each catalogue includes around a dozen books for kids, plus four adult books for the parents
  • Prices between $10 and $30
  • Books are chosen by Ed with additional recommendations from the bookseller involved (Ed ‘trawls’ bookshops for ideas and also receives recommendations from ‘all over the place’, including friends and the school’s P&C.)
  • Catalogues are created in Word and converted to PDF. The format is fairly simple, with an image of each book plus a blurb, and a one-sheet order form at the back
  • Students drop orders into a box in the school office and Ed collects and collates them before forwarding to the bookseller
  • A percentage of proceeds from the club goes back to the school in form of a credit to purchase books for the library or classrooms

Where to discover great books

We were struck by Ed’s passion for reading and broad book knowledge. We were keen to know where he and the rest of his book-loving family find out about books.

Ed himself is a regular visitor to bookshops, naming several regular ‘haunts’ in Sydney’s inner west and the city. The family also makes use of libraries (‘a terrific resource’), and Ed mentions that they’re able to borrow Italian-language picture books at Leichhardt Library.

Ed’s children Sofia and Emilio are both readers, and Sofia, who is in Year 3, loves attending author events. Her birthday coincides with the annual Sydney Writers Festival – an opportunity to take some friends along to an author workshop for a treat!

You can explore some of Ed’s book recommendations, for both kids and adults, here.

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  1. Jackson

    The best thing about Bede’s though is that the School is centred on developing individuals rather than on trying to mould people or force them to be something they are not.

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