Whether you are a brand-new parent with a newborn or have been around the parenting block a few times, there is always something new to learn with each age and stage. Parenthood can be quite isolating and frustrating if we try to do it alone. Joining or starting a parenting book club can be a wonderful way to find support while having fun and garnering a whole host of additional benefits.

Here are five reasons you should consider either joining or starting a parenting book club:

Get a break from your family. First and foremost, book clubs are an enjoyable social activity that provide a chance for you to get out of the house for a bit. All parents need a break from their kids and the other responsibilities at home, so a book club is a great excuse to have some time away and recharge your batteries. Book clubs usually only last a couple of hours once a month, so they are not a big commitment. Be sure to add your book club meetings to your calendar way in advance to set up childcare, whether it’s your co-parent or a babysitter.

Meet new friends. Books have the incredible ability to bring people together. Book clubs are a wonderful way to reach out and make new friends, whether you are new to the area, new to parenthood or looking to connect to other parents in your neighborhood, school, etc. Many parents struggle with either being stuck at home with young children all day or feeling far removed from the parenting world if they work. By joining a book club focused on parenting, you can connect with others in your same situation to talk about issues that impact all your lives. If you already enjoy reading, you know it can feel like a solitary hobby, but when you read a book to discuss with others, it brings the experience to a whole other level for you to form new relationships.

Bond with other parents. Besides initiating new friendships, you will find that you can also deepen bonds with others in the book club over time. Attending a parenting book club consistently will help you get to know others in the group as you dive into more personal topics that arise from book discussions. You may discover fascinating stories and interests of other members that lead you to get to know them even more, such as inviting them to get together outside of the book club. The next thing you know, you might be vacationing or sharing holidays with book club friends.

Discover new parenting approaches. Another benefit of being part of a parenting book club is that it helps you learn about new parenting approaches you were not aware of and to see situations from a different perspective. Each book that you read provides unique and interesting ideas from the author. Plus, by being part of a book club, you will get exposed to books and viewpoints that you otherwise may never have even considered. Also, often during conversations about a book, participants will offer parenting tips and tricks that work for them. If you are struggling with a specific issue that comes up in the book or during the discussion, you can ask for advice and walk away with ideas to try at home with your own kids.

Build a healthy habit of reading. If you are already an avid reader, you are probably aware of the many positive benefits of reading. In fact, reading is one of the best ways to help us relax, according to a research study out of the United Kingdom. Reading is a healthy distraction and helps us feel calmer as we focus on the words in front of us and escape our mental chatter and worries. We may even become so engaged in a book to the point of reaching a calm, meditative state. When we are part of a book club, we have an extra push to read and finish the book so we can participate in the fun and stimulating discussion with the group.

How to Find a Parenting Book Club

Now that you know all the benefits of participating in a parenting book club, you are probably wondering how to get started. If you are looking to join an existing book club in your area, then you can look for one at the following: local libraries, bookstores, your school’s PTA, houses of worship, community centers like YMCA and JCC and other community groups like children’s museums or non-profits focused on parenting and children’s issues. You can also try to find local groups using online tools like Facebook, Meetup and Nextdoor.

If you are having trouble finding an in-person parenting book club or prefer an online option, you can also search for virtual groups. Facebook is a good place to start, as is just googling “parenting book clubs.” You can also check out Goodreads.com and BookBrowse.com. Some parenting bloggers and authors organize book clubs. Dr. Nerissa Bauer of Let’s Talk Kids Health offers a Read & Grow Parenting Book Club in which participants read popular parenting books and interact with other readers in her exclusive Facebook parenting discussion group. You might also be able to find parenting book clubs in a specific niche. For example, on Facebook, there is an Outdoor Parent Book Club/Discussion in which members read nature-related parenting books.

How to Start Your Own

Not having any luck finding a parenting book club that works for you? Then start your own. You can grab a few friends and get reading or build up a community from scratch by announcing your group to some of the places mentioned above. You can also include information in your neighborhood newsletter if you have one or reach out to local businesses or organizations to see if you can put up a flyer or add information about book club meetings on their website or in their newsletter. Writing groups can also be a good resource. The Women’s National Book Association supports book clubs and sponsors literary events around the country.

Before you launch your book club, you will want to consider how many members you want and if you will set any limits on attendees, when you will meet, where you will meet, who will choose the books, who will lead the book discussions and who will bring food and refreshments. You might also want to pick out a specific theme for the books you choose, such as teen-only or nature parenting books. Some other helpful ideas to enhance your book club are to download a book discussion guide from the author. For a free book club discussion guide for the nature parenting book, Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer, visit https://ecohappinessproject.com/parenting-book/#bookclubguide. Finally, you can even invite authors to join in the conversation, either in person, if possible, or virtually. That is sure to be a hit!