When you hear the term book clubs and literature circles do you automatically think elementary school? I used to think just that – that literature circles were for elementary and upper elementary. That is until about 10 years ago when I was introduced to literature circles for my 8th grade reading class.
I was working as a mentor teacher with a 5th grade teacher who loved them and encouraged me to give them a try. As a firm believer that an excellent teacher is one that is always willing to learn and grow, I decided to give it a try. We worked together to increase the rigor in her class while at the same time develop a unit that would work with my second semester 8th graders. It came to be an amazing friendship and a teaching style I love!
5 reasons to include literature circles and book clubs in your secondary classroom…
1. Builds students conversation skills about literature
Academic vocabulary is used naturally within general conversation. Students learn how to discuss their books in a natural setting that helps them build on the ideas of others, as well as, develop their own ideas.
I love when students are leaving class and I hear them asking their friend, “did you get to [exciting part] yet” or “oh my gosh can you believe [character] did that.”
2. Students Work in small groups to develop reading skills
Book clubs are generally groups of 3-4 students which help students at all levels to be more confident in their reading skills. Small groups also create more authentic opportunities for peers to peer help.
3. You can easily differentiate
Because the book itself doesn’t really matter, you can easily differentiate the reading level up or down to meet the needs of the students. Students can easily engage in book clubs at any reading level.
If you have a high school group that is reading at an elementary level, they can still read a book and participate in the activity. Since each group has a different book, there’s no obvious way for the class to know the reading level of any of the books. The same goes for students reading well above grade level. Students can be reading a higher level book to meet their individual needs.
All this can happen within the same class, at the same time with minimal effort from the teacher saving you time.
4. Provides opportunity for student choice
Student choice is key to getting student buy in for all types of assignments. What better way for students to work on reading skills than by being able to choose their own book!
5. Builds confidence
Since all readers can be successful, book talks build student confidence in their own abilities. As they present and others share in the experience the individual grows more confident in their choices of books and ability to read.