I love finding new ways to get kids excited about reading. Don’t you?
This week has been full of reading activities–Holding an Outdoor Book Tasting, Story Time, Activities for Learning, Creating a Novel Brochure… Let’s keep the fun going with literature circles for kids.
Literature circles are very like book clubs for kids, but with a little more structure. If you’re a homeschooler, there are instructions for pulling things together here. Once you have a group set up, you can plan your literature circle.
How to Hold a Kid’s Literature Circle
A literature circle is like a book club in that kids read the same book and meet to discuss it. But there’s a little more to it than that.
Literature circles not only increase enjoyment of reading, they make the readers more aware of their personal reactions to the book. Because they will be having literary discussions with other kids and will be in charge of leading part of the discussion, they will think more deeply about what they’re reading and pay closer attention. Hearing what other kids think about the book will help them find new ways of analyzing and deepen critical thinking skills.
There are roles assigned to the kids and they rotate with each meeting. The roles are really cool because they give each child a chance to lead the discussion in an important way and help them all think of things to talk about.
There are 4 roles to assign, so if you only have 4 kids in your group, they all 4 get a role. Assign these roles before they start reading, then reassign them at the next meeting. If you have more than 4 kids, rotate through them until everyone gets a chance to play a role.
This person asks the who, what, when, where, and why questions of the group. He or she will identify the important aspects of the reading and ask questions to increase comprehension. This person also facilitates the discussion and keeps everyone on track. There are example questions for the Discussion Director in the free printable at the end of the post.
This person will choose 4 sections of the reading to read aloud to the group and discuss. These passages should be meaningful, funny, puzzling, and/or important to the story. He or she should keep notes about why they chose each section of the reading, questions they can ask, and what they would like to discuss about each section. There are example questions for the Illuminator in the free printable at the end of the post.
The connector finds connections between the reading and the world outside the book. She can make connections to her own life, something she’s studied, news events, other books, or pop culture. She leads the discussion about connections and should allow others to make connections as well. There are example questions for the Connector in the free printable at the end of the post.
This person will watch for interesting or new words in the reading. He will keep a list of these words and their definitions, as well where they can be found in the book, and make copies to share with the group. He should lead the group to discuss the context of the words within the reading. There are example questions for the Vocabulary Enricher in the free printable at the end of the post.
The free printable also includes a sheet for keeping track of the roles.
- Choose a book that can be enjoyed by all members
- Introduce book to members
- Announce how often you will meet
- Assign roles to 4 of the members
- Assign the reading
- Explain what is expected of the members
- Kids freely discuss what they liked/disliked about the reading
- Discussion director leads the who, what, when, where, why questions
- Illuminator reads 1st chosen section then leads the discussion about it
- Illuminator continues with sections 2-4
- Connector explains connections made and leads discussion about connections
- Vocabulary Enricher hands out list of words and leads the discussion about context
- Kids finish up any discussion they feel appropriate
- Roles are reassigned
- Reading for next meeting is assigned
- Snack time!
- Follow the steps for the second meeting until the book is complete.
There is a plan agenda in the free printable, too!
Choosing books for a literature circle is not a difficult process. There are a few things to keep in mind:
- Make sure the text can be easily read/followed by all members
- The book should have something meaningful to teach them or expose them to
- Have layers of meaning for the kids to catch
- Include literary devices such as figurative language, foreshadowing, flashback, imagery, etc.
- Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
- Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
- Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
- Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
- Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
- The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
- Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
- Holes by Louis Sachar
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
- Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
- Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patrica MacLachlin
- Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
It’s a lot to keep track of, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I got you. Download this free printable and get organized. Because who doesn’t want to hold a literature circle?
I mean, are you in? Because this is both fun and super educational–my favorite way to enjoy books!
Want more ways to make reading fun? Check out:
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