Literature Circles and Book Clubs

Literature Circles are a great way to increase student reading and engagement
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Literature Circles
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About This Strategy

Literature circles and book clubs are a text discussion strategies that supports student-led facilitation and discussion in small groups. By creating roles within each literature circle or book club group and specific tasks for the group to accomplish during their text discussion time, teachers can modify the work to make it more student-centered. These strategies give students the opportunity to engage in and lead deep conversations on the text they are reading.

Literature Circle Implementation Steps

  1. Engage students in the concept of a Literature Circle by explaining the purpose, the reason and the procedures that make up this activity. Consult the Literature Circle Roles Powerpoint resource below for guidance.

  2. Determine the roles for students within the literature circle group and then explain the different roles and their importance to the students. Use this resource to get started with developing literature circle roles or consult the Literature Circle Role cards resource below to determine and develop roles.

    • Optional: Consider developing literature circle roles with students by having students brainstorm roles on an anchor chart and the narrowing down that list as a class.

  3. Model a literature circle discussion with a few students using a sample text, Then be sure to debrief the modeled discussion and the roles played by participants in the Literature Circle.

  4. Introduce clear objectives to the Literature Circle and consider displaying them on an anchor chart. To learn more about Anchor Charts, consult the Anchor Chart strategy. For example, some objectives could be that students should:

    • respond to questions and discussion with relevant and focused comments.

    • respond to a question with textual evidence

    • identify and analyze literary elements in text.

    • ask relevant questions to clarify understanding.

  5. Before engaging in a literature circle, have students meet in their groups to assign literature circle roles. Each student in the group should have one role, so be sure to develop groups so that there is a clear role for each student in the group.

  6. Once students know what their role in the group will be, give them time to write out their thoughts and prepare for their role (e.g.,  if a student is assigned to be in the role of discussion director, they should write out questions they want to ask the group in advance of the group's meeting).

  7. Give students an allotted period of time in their literature circles. Consider giving each student a certain amount of time in their role before moving on to the next person in the group to share out on his or her role.

  8. After engaging in the literature circle, run a debrief so that students get a chance to share their Literary Circle discussions and learnings with the rest of the class.

Book Club Implementation Steps

Like a literature circle, book club discussions should be structured so that students have clear goals for their discussion and roles in their discussion. 

Implementation Steps:

1. Determine the roles for each member of the book club (consult the literature circle roles above for ideas) and put students in groups for their book club discussions.

2. Determine if all students will be discussing the same text or if each group will be reading and discussing separate texts. 

3. Provide time for students to meet in their book club groups in order to determine their roles and what to prepare for their upcoming book club meeting (see resource below for an example of a tool to guide the planning process for students). 

4. Before students meet in their book clubs, be sure to review with them what a book club should look like and sound like (to learn more about this, consult the Anchor Chart strategy in the Better Lesson Lab). 

5. As students are engaging in book club discussions, make sure that each group member is participating equally. 

6. After the book club discussion, provide time for students to reflect on the book club discussion via an exit ticket or whole class discussion. 

Coach Tips

Juan Matos
BetterLesson Instructional Coach

Approach Literature Circles with the understanding that it's a process and not a one-time activity. Be patient with students are they begin to grasp this task, and repeat the process several times so students internalize it. Be sure to switch students' roles at each literature circle so that all students have a chance to be responsible for each role.

Tech Tools

Flipgrid

  • Flipgrid is a video discussion platform great for generating class discussion around topics, videos, or links posted to the class grid. Students can video record their responses to share with the teacher or class.

  • Set up Flipgrid and students can record the video of their Literature Circles and upload them for the whole class to see. Or, students can engage in a virtual literature circle where they each post their comments and feedback on flipgrid.

Padlet

  • Padlet is a digital corkboard type tool that students can use to gather information or reflections. Teachers can easily access each students' Padlet with a shared link.

  • Set up a padlet for each group and have a column for each group member to share their thoughts electronically. The padlets can be saved and shared with the class.

Related Lessons

  • Explore the Preparing For Our Literary Discussion lesson by 7th Grade ELA teacher teacher Julia Withers included in the resources below to see how students can be prepared in advance of Literature Circles.

  • Explore the First Day of Lit Circles! lesson by 6th Grade ELA teacher Simone Larson included in the resources below to see how the Literature Circles can be introduced to a classroom with diverse learners.

  • Explore the Using Diamante Poems as Formative Assessment in Literature Circles lesson by 12th Grade teacher Glenda Funk included in the resources below to see how assessments can incorporated into Literature Circles.