Book Club

Literature Circle, Book Talk

A Book Club is a small group of students who meet regularly to discuss their thinking about a common book or text. These groups generally meet during the school day and discuss a variety of texts (e.g., article, poem, novel) across content areas. Prior to a Book Club meeting, students read a predetermined text or selection and prepare discussion points to share with their group (e.g., character observations, questions, predictions, connections, etc.). Students then engage in a growing conversation about the text and use critical thinking skills to expand and synthesize ideas. These student-led discussions build collaboration skills as well as individual accountability as students are expected to come to the meeting prepared to meaningfully participate in the conversation. Book Clubs can also be a powerful tool for differentiating instruction by allowing a teacher to strategically assign texts and form groups to support student needs.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Sentence Frames

Discussion Sentence Frames

A collection of sentence starters to help students frame their thoughts, questions, and analyses in a respectful but meaningful way.

Grade 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 · English Language Arts, Language, Listening, Speaking · 2 pages

Implementation Tips

Selecting Texts
Select engaging, thought-provoking texts for Book Clubs. Book Clubs can be used to support in-depth analysis and discussion of a variety of texts including literature, historical accounts, movie clips, and lyrics. Texts can be assigned based on student interests, reading level, or learning objectives. Students can also be involved in selecting texts for their Book Club to study and discuss.
Student Roles
Establish and model student roles for Book Club discussions (e.g., Summarizer, Recorder, Discussion Leader, Illustrator). These roles can be determined by students in the group or assigned by the teacher and should rotate periodically. When student are comfortable with the group discussion format, the formal use of the roles can be discontinued. Check out this packet of [[|student handouts]] to support Book Club roles.
Sentence Frames
Provide sentence starters or discussion prompts before and during Book Club meetings to promote language development and participation. This might include questions to deepen discussions (e.g., What would you ask the author if you had the chance?) or sentence starters to help students seek clarification (e.g., I’m not sure I understood. Are you saying…?).
Creating Groups
Create groups of four to six students by focusing on the strengths and needs of each student as a reader, writer, and speaker. Depending on the purpose of the Book Clubs, students can be grouped by reading level (e.g., to support growth in specific reading skills) or groups can include a range of abilities (e.g., when using clubs to conduct research on a topic).
Teacher's Role
Observe the academic and social performance of students as they participate in Book Clubs. In response to individual or group needs, the teacher can:
-- Name what students are doing correctly and support positive group work (e.g., “Remember to make decisions collaboratively.”)
-- Provide a teaching point (e.g., “Can you show me how you got that idea? Is there more text evidence?”)
-- Record observations of student participation and understandings using a tally sheet or rubric
Recording Discussion Ideas
Encourage Book Clubs to use a variety of note-taking approaches to record ideas before and during discussions (e.g., reading notebook, graphic organizers, sticky notes, etc.). For example, prior to a meeting, each student can write an intriguing idea about the text on a sticky note. When the Book Club meets, all sticky notes are gathered and the group works to link ideas together and support them with text evidence.
Provide time for student reflection after each Book Club meeting. To promote accountability, students can complete individual reflection forms (Sample: [[|Literature Circle Reflection]]) to assess their contribution to the group’s discussion, which can be collected and reviewed by the teacher. Groups can also reflect together and set goals for future meetings.


Literature Discussions
The day before Book Clubs are scheduled to meet, a teacher delivers a mini-lesson on how social issues and historical events can affect a novel’s plot. For homework, the teacher asks students to use sticky notes to mark key social issues or historical events that have occurred in their novel. Students meet the next day to discuss the events they selected and the teacher provides guiding questions to promote deeper thinking (e.g., Why was the event important? How did the characters in the story react? How do you expect this issue to affect the overall plot?).
Research Projects
As part of a social studies unit, a teacher creates Book Clubs that are assigned to research a specific topic related to the country of Brazil (e.g., government, cultural celebrations, rainforest). To accommodate student needs, the teacher collects a variety of texts on each topic (e.g., picture books, encyclopedia articles, captioned photographs, etc.) and assigns them to individual students based on their reading level. During Book Clubs, students discuss key ideas from their texts. After Book Clubs have met several times each group prepares a presentation to share their findings to the whole class.
Group Recording
To support students in collecting ideas and synthesizing information, a teacher provides a folder of graphic organizers for students to use during Book Clubs (e.g., web, two or three-column charts, story map, etc.). At the beginning of each meeting, students select a topic to focus on and a graphic organizer to record their thinking as a group. For example, a group can use a Venn diagram to compare characters or a two-column chart record plot predictions and evidence. As groups engage in discussions the recorder completes the graphic organizer. At the end of the discussion, the group reviews the graphic organizer and adds or clarifies ideas.

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