Book clubs are a simple way to develops student literacy. Middle school students (grades 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades) understand that their success depends on their level of literacy, or their ability to read and write fluently. The discussion breaks down on the best way to achieve literacy.
As I’ve discussed before, giving students CHOICE is the most important way to encourage students to read. A simple way to do that is a book club. Book clubs are ways to share the reading experience with a small group within a controlled environment. Here’s the thing: book clubs also need CHOICE. For more on the importance of choice, read The Book Whisperer.
Students become far more excited about reading when they have choices in the book clubs. They want to choose the members of their group and the books they’ll read. But giving them ownership in other ways also helps. Often students want to decide on discussion questions. They want leadership roles in guiding the discussions. For sure they want to avoid record keeping (logs, reports, and group projects). In other words, middle school students want to be independent readers and thinkers.
Teachers have to think about their required teaching standards when setting up book clubs during class times. However, giving students ownership of book clubs and their independent reading is a choice toward literacy and encouraging students to become life-long readers.
Often teachers choose to present a curated list of titles but assure students that they can add to the list if wanted. The curated list can represent a wide range of genres, diverse topics and characters, and reading levels.
Finding Books for Book Clubs
- Home/friends – sometimes students can borrow a book from a friend or perhaps they actually own a copy.
- School & public library – often students can find copies of the chosen book at the school or public library.
- eBooks – Often, ebooks are cheaper than the paperback books. Check the prices and decide if ebooks is a cheaper option.
- Build a classroom library – over several years, teachers often build school libraries with collections of book sets. This is great as long as the sets don’t become the default book choices and students are no longer able to decide what to read.
- Purchase books – schools need to allow budgets for students to choose the books they want to read. This may take working with administration to change policies. But it’s the strongest choice possible to build literacy. Without books that kids love, literacy is impossible to develop. Often teachers and school librarians work with local or regional educational distributors to find the best pricing.
Mims House Supports Book Clubs—And Literacy
Review Copies. Free paperback review copies to teachers or other book club facilitators of book clubs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with teacher’s name, grade level and number of students in book clubs.
Discounted ebooks. We’ll discount ebooks for titles your students choose for book clubs. This is the most cost-effective choice. We guarantee that you’ll be able to read our ebooks on the device of your choice. Email email@example.com with teacher’s name, grade level and number of students in book clubs.
Paperback books. We’ll be glad to quote you book club pricing on our paperback books. We want students to read! So, we’ll give you the best pricing we can. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with teacher’s name, grade level and number of students in book clubs.
Download our free discussion guides. These work as a starting point for discussion, but we hope that students will move beyond these questions.
DOWNLOAD DISCUSSION GUIDE FOR:
- The Wayfinder: A Heartland Tale, Book 1 (fantasy – importance of an individual)
- The Falconer: A Heartland Tale, Book 2 (fantasy – importance of an individual)
- Sleepers: The Blue Planets World Series, Book 1 (science fiction – respect)
RESOURCES for Book Clubs
- Teaching kids how to talk about books
- The Book Whisperer by Donalynn Miller. Great book that emphasizes the importance of student choice.
- Book Club Ideas
- How to Run a Book Club in Your Classroom