Plain and simple, book clubs are fun!
Nothing seems to fosters the higher-level thinking that allows children to form ideas and opinions about real life, more than hashing through a story in a discussion circle. There's something about listening and talking things through with friends that stimulates the mind to process and absorb without the added pressure of a graded, written response.
Using Blackbird & Company literature discovery guides in our co-op school provides the perfect framework for a weekly book club because there are discussion
questions built into every section. There are questions designed to
spark student’s memories, trigger their interpretations, and get them
thinking beyond the page about how a story can relate to their actual
Consider the following when putting a group together:
COMFORT & SIZE
A real book club should be comfy and fun! Gathering in a comfortable area, whether in chairs or sitting on the floor, helps set discussion time aside as special and relaxed. Groups of 6-8 work best for allowing everyone to participate. Treats are always a welcome addition too!
READING ABILITY Inviting students with similar reading skills allows the group to coalesce. As students begin to feel comfortable with their group even reluctant speakers will share what’s on their mind.
Having a regular scheduled time each week helps students pace through their reading and builds anticipation.
Be inspired by student responses and guide the discussion where it wants to go naturally. Don’t worry if things get a little off track as long as students are thinking creatively. Often one question will lead to another resulting in lively and interesting connections.
Feel free to use the questions creatively. For example, assign each question to a different student for presentation to the group; allow two groups to take sides and debate the pros and cons of a particular question; or allow students to role play their response to a question.
As you're planning for the coming school year, think about making a place for your children and their friends to come together over great books! It can help create passionate, thinking readers and it's sure to breath fresh life into your language arts studies!