If you are not implementing Book Club in your upper elementary or middle school classroom, you need to do so now!
Traditional reading class in elementary and middle school has usually consisted of teachers self-selecting books for students to read. Whether it be a whole class novel or leveled books for guided reading, the choice has always been with the teacher. Yes, finding books at students’ reading levels is important, but by taking away choice, you are taking away student interest and engagement. Book Club is a time when students self-select books to read and discuss in small groups. And this should be happening in your classroom now!
How to Start Book Club
Before starting Book Club in our classroom, we select about 6-7 books that we feel are good titles for the students to choose from and that have a wide variety of reading levels. We can use our school and district libraries to find multiple copies, besides our own classroom library. Once we have the titles, we like to read the book jacket aloud to the students so they know what the book is about. Often, other students will chime in if they have read the book too.
Next, we have students sign up for Book Clubs. See our Editable Book Club Group Template handout that is included in our Book Club unit for helpful organization of groups. We like to have at least three students per book. If there are only two, and one student is sick, that Book Club group would not be able to operate. Before starting Book Club, we also send a letter home to families so they know what Book Club is all about.
How to Engage Students
After we have gotten the students excited about their books and are ready to begin, we show them the Book Club Introduction Slideshow. It talks about the purpose, expectations, tools that will help them, and how to experience success. This is a perfect lead in to the Book Club contract that we want them all to sign.
We then hand them out the bookmarks. The students get into groups and decide on the number of pages to be read each day. We try to have all book clubs finish around the same time (about 12 days). This allows for differentiation and flexibility with all groups. As teachers we tend to help out students with a lower reading level decide on pages to read. You will want to use the Editable Book Club Schedule to record the pages the groups select so you can track what groups are reading daily. Below is an example of the bookmark your students could use.
What to do for Daily Work
We have included some different options for daily work that you can pick and choose from. The daily assignment and daily assignment reflection allow students to reflect on their reading. You will want students to have the Author’s Craft and Reflection Guide handout to help them. We also have a Main Character Study activity to help students dive deeper into the main characters in the book.
How to Assess Students
We have included multiple forms of assessment for you to choose from. We have a daily grading rubric, a discussion rubric, a group self-assessment rubric, and an end of book club reflection. It is important to hold the students accountable for their work. Below is an example of our daily grading rubric.
How to Work with Struggling Students
Book Club should provide motivation for your students, but like any activity, there will still be some students who have a hard time getting started and working each day. These students will need your guidance. Here are some tips on how to connect with your struggling students:
- It will be important that you are as excited as you can when helping these students on their daily tasks. Showing them that you care about the book they are reading will hopefully help burn a fire within them!
- Check-in with your struggling students daily. They may need guidance on where to begin and how to work each day.
- Allow your struggling students to do partner reading and work with a classmate to do the daily requirements.
- Be there for them through the entire process. Your struggling students will notice the interest that you have in their learning!
We highly suggest your start implementing Book Club in your classroom. Our Book Club resource will get you on the path to higher student engagement and success with your class!