Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups

Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups

Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups

Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in Book Clubs and Reading Groups

Synopsis

What do we know about literature circles now that we didn't understand eight or ten years ago? What new resources and procedures can help teachers organize their classroom book clubs better? What are the most common pitfalls in implementing student-led discussion groups? And getting beyond the basics, what do mature or "advanced" literature circles look like?

In this thoroughly revised and expanded guide, you will find new strategies, structures, tools, and stories that show you how to launch and manage literature circles effectively. Advanced variations are explored and include alternatives to role sheets and flexible new guidelines for their use.

The second edition includes:

  • four different models for preparing students for literature circles using response logs, sticky notes, and newly designed role sheets;
  • dozens of variations on the basic version of student-led bookclubs;
  • new models and procedures for primary, intermediate, and high school grades;
  • new materials for assessing and grading literature circles;
  • an inventory of common management problems and solutions;
  • new scheduling patterns for group meetings and reading time;
  • ideas for using literature circles with nonfiction texts across the curriculum;
  • research on literature circles, including correlation with increased achievement on standardized tests;
  • an explanation of how literature circles match with the national standards for literacy education.

With detailed examples provided by twenty practicing teachers, Harvey Daniels offers practical and concrete suggestions for each aspect of book club management and proven solutions for problems that arise.

Excerpt

Back in 1993, when I joined with twenty great teachers to write a book about literature circles, we didn't quite know what we were getting into. We were a loose confederation of colleagues working from kindergarten through college, in city and suburban schools around Chicago. What brought us together was our excitement about the student book clubs meeting in our classrooms, which we called “literature circles.”

Using a variety of different structures and procedures that matched our grade levels, we'd been dazzled by what the kids could do when given choices, time, responsibility, a little guidance, and a workable structure. Our students were reading lots of good books, thinking deeply about them, writing notes and journal entries, and joining in lively, informed literature discussions. They shared responses with peers, listened respectfully to one another, sometimes disagreed vehemently, but dug back into the text to settle arguments or validate different interpretations. in short, our kids were acting like real readers, lifelong readers. Oh, sure, there were problems, too: kids who didn't do the reading, offtask discussions, and really noisy rooms. But mostly, it was working. and our group of colleagues was really excited. Literature circles were a pretty nifty little invention that we had created all by ourselves, right here in the rarefied climate of Chicago. of course, we soon found out that we were not alone at all. All across the country, we had plenty of unmet company, teachers and kids who were inventing and reinventing literature circles of their own.

Today, things have really changed. the world has changed, schools have changed, and literature circles have changed. What used to be a quiet, homegrown activity in a few scattered classrooms has become a trend, a boom, almost a fad. Now tens of thousands of teachers are doing something they call “literature circles.” and many other teachers are using classroom activities that look very much the same, which they call “book clubs” or “reading groups.” This means that now literally millions of students are involved in some kind of small, peer-led reading discussion group.

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