YA Book Clubs: Part I

Teachers incorporate books clubs into their classrooms for a variety of purposes. Some like to offer books of the same genre. Some like to have the books centered around a theme. For my last cycle of book clubs this school year my purpose was simple-I wanted to assess students on two standards: engaging in meaningful discussion & tracing a theme throughout a text.  This narrowed down the titles I offered for students. I could use all genres except nonfiction (I decided not to include narrative nonfiction) and formats like graphic novels and novels in verse could be included. 

Students in my room are no strangers to either choice or independent reading. We start building a community of readers from day one, so when it comes time to implement book clubs, students see this as a natural extension.  It helps that we have processes in places, making it easier for students to know what they like. I intend to use book clubs again even if we are virtual. 

In this post I'll showcase the books I used in the 2019-2020 school year as well as the books I'm considering for my incoming students. Keep in mind that I teach 8 grade and I offer different books to different blocks. As a rule, I present each class with 5-7 titles. 

You'll notice that most of my book slides have a section called "building background." Because my book clubs this past spring were going to be heterogeneous groups, I knew I needed to spend a class allowing students to gain sufficient knowledge about topics in their books. Research indicates the more a students knows about a topic the more they comprehend (NAEP). This portion might look different for each group. Below are several examples of what building background looks like. I like to use various types of resources, not just books. 

Monday's Not Coming This book is inspired by the now-viral #missinggirlsDC. Eventually students will end up researching this hashtag on their own, but before they get that far I need them to understand why these missing girls did not receive the media attention they deserved. I begin by having them read an excerpt from Skewed to introduce them to media bias. Then, I'd give them multiple examples of media bias-this could be tweets from our president, newspaper headlines, clips from newscasts, or political cartoons. 

Internment  Though science fiction, this book is eerily realistic. For this group, it is vital that they understand what the word internment means. I provide a 3-4 minute explicit vocab. lesson with this group, then have them work together on a deep processing activity (more on how I incorporate vocab. in part three). Next, I'd give them the picture book about the Japanese internment camps during WWII. They use this story to complete a second deep-processing activity so they make connections. In addition, I'd have them read an excerpt from the travel ban. 


It's SO hard to narrow down books for book clubs, but I particularly struggle with fantasy and YA. Have suggestions, drop them below!

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I'll walk you through how I teach students to have effective discussions and be productive members of a group. 


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