Book Clubs in the Elementary Classroom – Part 3
This is the third and final installment in the Book Clubs Blog Post Miniseries! I’m so happy you’re here and I hope you’re as excited about student-led Book Clubs as I am! In this post, I’ll explain what I do during the first Book Club meeting and I’ll answer some important questions that I’ve received about managing Book Clubs. Before we begin, click here to download my free Guide to Getting Started with Book Clubs!
Hosting Book Clubs in Elementary
During the first Book Club meeting, it’s important to set clear expectations. Use this time to explicitly state what you want them to be doing during their meetings, which last for approximately 20 minutes everyday. Explain any tasks they will have to complete on a certain day (ex: Question of the Day on Wednesdays, Weekly Reflection on Fridays). Can they read in their heads? Should they take turns reading aloud? Do you want to leave the decision up to them?
Imagine exactly what you picture the perfect Book Club to be like, then paint that picture for them. This is where my free Guide to Getting Started with Book Clubs comes in handy so you can establish those student expectations beforehand! After having this discussion with your students, and most likely answering a few ‘What If…?’ questions, it’s time to make these Book Clubs truly student-led. You’ve explained your expectations and your requirements, but now it’s time to give them ownership….
Student-Led Book Clubs
Each Book Club works together to develop a list of Do’s and Don’ts. These are behaviors and choices that they believe will help their Book Club run effectively, and opposing behaviors/choices that would not benefit the Book Club. Once each group is finished, I ask them to share out their lists with the whole class. The first group shares everything they wrote, but subsequent groups will only share out ideas that haven’t been said yet.
As a final wrap up to this activity, I give the groups 2 minutes to modify their Do/Don’t chart based on what they heard their classmates share. I display the student-made “Book Club Do’s and Don’ts” charts for the entire duration of Book Clubs, and I ask students to refer to them often if they’re not adhering to something they agreed upon.
Managing Student Book Clubs
Once the Do’s and Don’ts are out of the way, it’s time to get down to business! I’ll also use the first Book Club meeting to challenge students to work together to create a reading schedule that they will follow. I tell students that Book Clubs will last for 5 weeks (you pick the number of weeks that works with your timeline).
Then, they divide up their book into sections that allow for them to complete the book in the allotted time. *This is a great time for students to practice their division skills! Students submit their reading schedule to me, and I turn it into a personalized bookmark for each student to use during Book Clubs! I love these editable Novel Study Bookmarks because they keep students on the same page and hold them accountable to stick to the schedule!
Book Club Meetings
Set aside 5 minutes to practice, practice, practice! At this time, students should model what they will be doing on an average day in Book Clubs. Get the voice level just right. Stop and start over when there’s a mishap. Have them demonstrate exactly how they will clean up and store their supplies. The more you correct behavior during the first meeting, the less you will have to correct it later!
As your student-led Book Clubs get rolling, continue to remind students of the WHY behind what they are doing. The 20 minutes spent in Book Club meetings is a special time for them to read a really good book, discuss it with their peers, and gain a deeper understanding of the novel through these conversations.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What do you do if a group finishes their book before the other groups?
This could definitely happen! It’s nearly impossible (and shouldn’t be your goal) to choose books that have exactly the same amount of pages in them. We choose our books based on availability and readability, as mentioned in Part 2. Having them be close in size is just a bonus. So, if a group finishes before the end of the 5 weeks, you’ll see that happening before it actually happens. When I notice a group is moving through a book quickly, here are some good options I’ve used:
- Provide them with some extra assignments to slow their reading rate (something like Reading Skill Sheets or an enrichment activity like Be the Test Maker).
- Find a similar book or the next book in the series for the group to start reading! Let them know that they will probably not have time to complete the book during this round of Book Clubs, but consider providing them with the opportunity to read collaboratively at other times of the day if they’d like.
- Use the time other groups are in Book Clubs for the finished group to be reading their own independent choice books. To hold them accountable, have them complete the same requirements with their independent books as the rest of the class is doing with their Book Clubs, like Weekly Reflections or Questions of the Day.
Do you do Book Clubs during Guided Reading time?
No. Book Clubs are a separate entity and have their own time outside of Guided Reading in my classroom. Book Clubs take place during a 20 minute block of time that is specifically carved out for this purpose. We still do Guided Reading and all of our ELA centers everyday!
Using Book Clubs as a time to incorporate students’ independent reading goals and/or revisit Guided Reading teaching points is a great way to double dip. This can be done just by meeting with a student before Book Clubs begin and saying “Hey, remember when we practiced pausing after reading a few paragraphs to visualize what’s happening in the story? I want you to try to do that today during Book Clubs.”
What grade levels can participate in Book Clubs?
Any grade! My Book Club resource was created for advanced 2nd graders through 6th grade students, however there are resources that cater to younger grades out there as well! An easy way to hold students accountable during book clubs, at any grade level, is just to have them stop and jot at the end of each meeting. Take out a notebook, jot down what they read, and have a conversation about it with their group. The most important thing about Book Clubs is the book. So, choosing books that pique your students’ interests and match their reading ability is the number one priority. The rest is just setting expectations and modeling what a good Book Club looks, sounds and feels like!
I hope that through this Blog Post Miniseries you’ve developed a better understanding of how Book Clubs could work in your classroom! I also hope you’re inspired to give it a try!