Reading Workshop: An Introduction to Book Clubs for Elementary Students

Read this blog post and learn how to start Book Clubs in your elementary school classroom.

Listen to the podcast episode.

Now that you have learned the benefits of Reading Workshop, as well as 5 easy ways to launch Reading Workshop, you are ready to dive into the world of Book Clubs.

Book Clubs are a great way to build classroom community, encourage collaboration, and improve reading comprehension. This concept fits hand-in-hand with Reading Workshop because like Reading Workshop, Book Clubs revolves around the idea that students can read what they want to read. The only difference is that they share their love of reading with peers who have similar interests.

You could have a genre study book club, for instance, where students join a club based on their favorite book genres. You could have an author book club, where students join a club based on their favorite authors. You could have book clubs based on series books. The ideas are endless, but again, at the heart of Book Clubs is the idea that students are sharing their love of reading with their peers.

So, you may be wondering, “How do I get started?” Good news! There are three easy steps!

Book clubs teach kids to simply love reading.

Step 1: Book Club Research

This step helps encourage student buy-in and student ownership over these books clubs. By allowing students to research their choices for Book Clubs, you are better able to select choices that actually interest the students.

First, have students research possible books. I recommend giving them some parameters (i.e. number of pages, genres, themes, etc.). This will help them narrow their focus when researching books. Make sure to grab your freebie resource at the end of this blog post. It includes worksheets that will help your students research and pitch their ideas to their peers.

There is a catch though…Unless you already have a large classroom library or school library, it may be difficult to get enough books. You will need 3-4 copies of each book that is chosen. The plus is that once students research and submit their selections, you can narrow down the list based on the books that are available to your class.

Ways to Collect Books for Book ClubsWebsite
Create a Donors Choose project to request books your students chose.Donors Choose
Raise funds or purchase books through Scholastic Book Clubs. Earn points towards free books when your students purchase books.Scholastic Book Clubs
Ask families for donations by creating an Amazon Wish List.Amazon
Ways to Collect Books at a Reasonable Price for Book Clubs

Step 2: Book Club Pitch

After your students research possible books for clubs, have them select one or two books to pitch to their other classmates. This is an ideal opportunity to teach persuasive speaking and listening. You can even tie in some persuasive writing!

I recommend approving the selections before they are pitched. That way, you can make sure they are school-appropriate, grade-level appropriate, and meet whatever requirements you set for your class. During the approval process, you may want to hold individual conferences with students or have students write a formal book proposal. If you want to target speaking skills, hold conferences. If you want to target writing skills, assign book proposals. These assignments lend themselves to mini-lessons that will focus on grade-level standards.

After each student has an approved book to pitch, give them time to work on their pitches. They can give formal presentations in front of the class, or they can pitch using one of the ideas listed in the table below:

How Students Can Pitch their Ideas to the ClassWebsite
Students can record their presentations on Flipgrid. They can include images, text, and even share their screens. The rest of the class can then log in to watch the other pitches. They can leave video or text comments. It is a great presentation tool! Best part? It’s free!Flipgrid
Students can create an Adobe Spark video advertisement for their book selections. This is a highly engaging way for students to present information. These videos can be played in front of the class or shared with individual students.Adobe Spark
Flipgrid and Adobe Spark are engaging ways for students to pitch their ideas.

Step 3: Book Club Selection

Whether your students record their presentations or give them in front of the class, make sure the other students take notes while watching the pitches. This is a great way for students to practice their listening skills. I recommend giving a mini-lesson on how to identify a speaker’s key arguments. This activity targets grade level listening standards.

While the students are listening to the pitches and taking notes, they should be thinking about what book clubs they are most interested in and which ones they feel would be the best options for the class. In the freebie below, they should narrow down the book choices to their top five and then their top three.

After selecting their top three books, have the students apply to be in their top three book clubs. This will help you as the teacher place students into their book clubs. First, I would choose the Book Clubs for the class based on book availability and the students’ top three choices. If possible, try to put every students into one of their top three choices. This might mean that your book clubs are different sizes. This is totally okay! I would recommend that each club be between 3-5 students. A club that is more than 5 students should probably be divided into separate clubs. It is possible to have a club of only two students, but I have found that students benefit from slightly larger clubs. This way, you can have more than two roles within the club.

After placing students into their clubs, have them choose roles within their clubs: Book Club Leader, time keeper, communicator (can be combined with leader if needed), and discussion facilitator. These roles are critical to successful Book Clubs because they help to keep the students on track during Book Club discussions. My next blog post will focus on how to run successful, on-task Book Club discussions.

Freebie Alert!

Other Blog Posts to Help You Implement Reading Workshop

The 5 Goals of Reading WorkshopNew to Reading Workshop? Read this blog post to learn more about how Reading Workshop can completely transform your literacy instruction.
5 Tips on How to Launch Reading Workshop SuccessfullyLearn how to level books, celebrate student successes, and recommend books to students.
Reading Workshop: Book Club DiscussionsFacilitate student-run book club meetings in 3 easy steps!
Read these blog posts about Reading Workshop from Learning N Progress.

Published by Learning N Progress

I am an elementary teacher who specializes in differentiated instruction and intervention. I have taught grades K-6, including intervention and gifted students. I am here to help other educators make differentiated instruction easy to manage and effective in reaching EVERY student in their classes.

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