How To

5 Literary Games to Electrify Your Book Club

Lucas Maxwell


Lucas Maxwell has been working with youth in libraries for over fifteen years. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, he's been a high school librarian in London, UK for over a decade. In 2017 he won the UK's School Librarian of the Year award and in 2022 he was named the UK Literacy Association's Reading For Pleasure Teacher Champion. He loves Dungeons & Dragons and is the author of Let's Roll: A Guide for Setting up Tabletop Roleplaying Games in Your School or Public Library. You can follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

Literary games are awesome. Not only are they a lot of fun for bookish people, they can also be a way to introduce non-bookish people to great books that they didn’t know existed.

I use them all the time in the school library that I manage. They are a great way to break down barriers between reluctant or struggling readers and books that I know they will love.

Whether you are running a book club for children, teens, or adults or you just need something to kill a few minutes in a class, here are five literary games that I use time and time again. Click on the title for full details on the game!

Book Basketball Deathmatch

Book Basketball DeathmatchFive teams of five are given ten points each to start the game. Each team is asked multiple choice–style literary questions. If a team answers correctly they get to take one point from any other team that they choose. They also get to nominate one person from their group to take a shot at the Nerf basketball hoop. If they sink the shot they get to take an additional four points from any team that they want. The team left standing with the most points wins. Warning: this is a lot of fun and becomes very rowdy.

Image Dice

Image DiceTo play Image Dice, you first need to make your own dice. You can find easy-ish instructions here. I made two for the game. One one die I wrote nouns—things like “dragon,” “ogre,” “robot,” etc. On the other die I wrote verbs like “flying,” “dying,” “fighting,” and so on. Ask a student to roll the dice and they must draw whatever comes up in three minutes or less. I love watching people come up with unique ideas for this. When “Dragon Dying” came up, one student drew a dragon dying of embarrassment after passing gas in front of people.

A Book A Minute!

Book a MinuteBased on the popular UK radio game show “Just a Minute,” A Book A Minute tests your book-pitching skills. With students, I always ask them to pretend they have one minute to convince their best friend to fall in love with a book. We discuss plot, characters, setting, similar books, and why it’s so amazing. These categories are written on a board that they aren’t allowed to look at. As the student goes through their pitch, I put a check next to the points that they hit, whilst their classmates give them encouragement to remember the things they are missing. We see who has the best time and the best pitch overall. It’s a lot of fun and one of our most popular literary games.

Reverse Literary Charades

Reverse CharadesAgain, this will get rowdy, but it’s a lot of fun. I always make the categories as far out as possible. One team member sits in a chair with the rest of the team standing in front of them. On the board I write a literary based subject that the team must act out together using regular charades rules. I throw in some easy ones and then turn up the juice with ones like “Gandalf going through customs at the airport” and “being attacked by those flying monkey things from the Wizard of Oz.”

Jeopardy! Rocks

Jeopardy Rocks is a fun game you can play for free through a web site called Factile.

Jeopardy Rocks!Within it you can create a Jeopardy! style game with categories and questions of your creation. You can also have teams choose to wager their money in the final Jeopardy! round. It’s a huge amount of fun that our students love!

I’d really love to hear of your favourite literary games!