Book Club Support

Student Book Clubs: Bringing High-Quality Literature Discussions into the Classroom

If you're a teacher trying to use book clubs (literature circles) with your students, I feel both your excitement and frustration.  It's such an amazing feeling when you get your students talking meaningfully about books they've read, but getting to the point where they're truly able to do that is a challenge.  Add to that the difficulties with choosing books and groups, holding students accountable for their work, and should we mention the issue of scheduling?

My colleagues and I have been organizing student book clubs for years (decades, actually), and have had our share of success and failure.  My hope here is to share some of my better ideas and materials, in case there's anyone out there who could benefit from them.

First Steps: Beginning the Year
Early in the year, I find it useful to teach students specific roles to play in a literature discussion.  These take the form of jobs such as Discussion Director or Artful Artist.  The idea is to give the students tools to read with purpose, so that they have something interesting and relevant to share when their group meets.  This packet includes eight student jobs and a record-keeping sheet.  The second document is a form for groups to use when they first meet, to assign jobs each week, and to plan which pages/chapters they will read each week.  I print these on cardstock and keep them all in a "Book Club Resources" binder, available for all students to refer to when needed.

Book Club Packet with Jobs
Weekly Jobs Record Sheet for Group

Kick it Up a Notch: Talking About Books
Later in the year, when students are tired of the jobs, have learned the types of responses I'm looking for, and are ready to have more authentic discussions about the books, I modify the requirements a bit.  Each week, the students each get a Book Club Weekly Assignment, in lieu of a specific job to prepare.  As they read, their new goal is to think about what they'd like to discuss with their group, be it questions, insights, things they liked or didn't, or examples of interesting or confusing writing.  The discussions are much more like what we're used to in adult book clubs: Free-flowing and fun.

Book Club Personal Record Sheet
Book Club Weekly Assignment
Weekly Meeting Record for Groups

Keeping Track: Teacher Forms
Book Club Record Sheet for Teachers
Weekly Job Assignments

4 comments:

Aimee Henkel said...

Hey!

We'd love for you to read Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29 by Axel Avian. I think you'll want your book club to read it. I can send you a free copy to review. aimee.henkel@arundelpublishing.com
Publisher's Weekly gave it a great review!

Kevin Gerard Kilpatrick said...

Greetings Mister K,

We have an author who writes fantasy adventure for middle grade/young adult readers. His characters begin their stories in middle school and make their way through high school as the books progress. We're particularly interested in your opinion of the Diego's Dragon series. It is the first with a Latino boy hero, and his dragon, Magnifico, is a real rascal. We'll understand if fantasy dragons aren't your cup of tea.

We'd be happy to mail you a print copy or make a Kindle copy available.

Title: Diego's Dragon, Book One: Spirits of the Sun
Author: Kevin Gerard
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Appropriate Age Recommendation: Age 10 and up
Page Count: 186 pages
ISBN: 978-0615536347

Blurb: A Boy, a Bloodline, and a Magnificent Journey...

An eleven-year-old Hispanic boy wins a district-wide writing contest for sixth graders. When an author visits his school to award his prize, Diego Ramirez has no idea how much his life is about to change.

Nathan Sullivan hands Diego his statue, a handsome, glistening black dragon. He shakes his hand and leaves him to his friends. The students crowd around Diego, asking for permission to hold it.

After hearing the name Magnifico spoken aloud by family and friends, Diego awards it to his new dragon. If he only knew how fitting the name was, he might have known what lay ahead.

Magnifico is the leader of the Sol Dragones, dragons that live within the magical fires of the sun. Nathan Sullivan is the earth's connection to the mysterious creatures. It is his task to find Magnifico's guide.

As Magnifico comes to life he becomes quite mischievous, playing tricks on Diego to embarrass him. As he discovers his bloodline, however, Diego assumes greater control over his dragon and his destiny. In the climactic journey, he frees his people and suffers a terrible loss by guiding Magnifico to their goal.

Please let us know if you'd care to review this wonderful story.

Peace,

Crying Cougar Press
www.diegosdragon.com
Twitter - @DiegosDragon

Jerry Goralnick said...

Hello,

Please consider reviewing Pot and Spoon A True Tale of Occupy Wall Street. It is available for download at http://potandspoon.com. Ocean State Libraries has requested permission to post it in their catalog.

The catalog record for POT AND SPOON is up in Ocean State Libraries Catalog at
http://catalog.oslri.net/record=b2344892
and the book is available on RI eZone.

And it has been featured on Boing Boing
http://boingboing.net/2014/05/21/pot-and-spoon-a-free-children.html

Find out what happens to Pot and Spoon at Occupy Wall Street
A true tale from the front lines

Regards,

Jerry Goralnick
Ruthie Rosenfeld
917-450-6301
jgoralnick@juno.com

Michelle Isenhoff said...

Hello Mr. K.

I am a fellow book blogger, language arts teacher, and middle grade author. I would appreciate the opportunity to send you a MG audiobook, Taylor Davis and the Flame of Findul. Written specificly for reluctant boy readers (age 10-14), it contains snarky humor and super-sized adventure. The first chapter is available here: https://soundcloud.com/michelle-isesnhoff/taylor-davis-and-the-flame-of-findul. I also enjoy interacting with classrooms via email or snail mail as an author, and I make digital editions of all my books free to teachers to share with students. (Subjects and language are entirely classroom-appropriate.) Find me at http://www.michelleisenhoff.com or email misenhoff at hotmail dot com if I can be of any use. Thank you.

Helping kids get excited about reading,
Michelle Isenhoff