I open by showing students three books - one mystery, one animal tale, one relationship based (my current students three favorite topics) and cover the titles.
I ask them to identify which one belongs in each category? (I don't hand them the books but hold them up to show them because I always have some who try to peek!) Students respond.
I ask "What can we learn from the cover of a book? What can't we learn from the cover of a book?"
I then ask "How do you choose a book to read out of our classroom library? - (cover picture, peer review, interest area, etc.) I take responses
I then state our objective - "Today we are going to learn how to choose a "Just Right" lit circle book by looking the cover, hearing about the genre and main plot, and reading a passage to determine the difficulty level."
I ask students Do you like to read about children your age solving problems? - then this may be the book for you! I conduct a book walk of a mystery book showing the front cover, introducing them to the characters and the plot. I then read the reviews on the book and share what reading level it is at. I've attached a list of some books that are recommended by the CCSS organizations as at level good reads.
I ask for a show of hands for students who are interested in this book? I then explain that it is important to read topics that interest you, but almost equally important is the reading difficulty level and style the author uses to write.
I explain the process using the steps on the worksheet to determine which books are just right for each students independent reading levels.
Students complete their worksheets as they read and review sections of each of the six books. I set a timer for 20 minutes and circulate to assist and answer questions on the books and strategies we learned.
When the timer signals I give each child a ballot to make their first, second and third choices for their literature circle books.
For this initial time I choose the groups to put together based on reading levels, ability to work together and boy/girl mixes in the groups. I have found that the energy levels and focus levels are better when I mix the boys and girls in groups. This also gives them varied perspectives of problems which improves their understanding and social skills.
I do this over their recess or lunch break so that we can get together again and share books and worksheets in a second lesson.
Students return and are given their books, worksheets and required pages (35 average a week but adjusted to more as the year progresses) to be read by the next meeting date (they meet once weekly).
They are then formed into small groups. They are given 5 minutes to introduce themselves and why they chose the book to their group members (begins building relationships and comfort levels from sharing of knowledge and interests)
We review the sections of the worksheet together and I give them time to read a few pages silently to increase their excitement about reading the stories.
I share the times/ days they will be expected to read in class and their nightly reading expectations. I also share that they be in charge of running their own weekly meetings and that we will practice this in the next lesson.
Students are excused and take their materials back to their desks/ backpacks.