Realistic Fiction Book Club ~Getting Started

Hello Friends!

I’m so excited about this series of posts about conducting book clubs in your classroom. The reason I have put so much time into this is because often I fall short when it comes to book clubs in my classroom. I’m excited about them and I love doing them, but I feel that we start off strong and end weak. I started this journey of learning by reflecting on my past book clubs and then moving into reading Breathing New Life into Book Clubs by Sonya Cherry-Paul and Dana Johansen. This book from start to finish gives ideas on how to start book clubs, what to do during book clubs, and how to celebrate the end of book clubs. It also gives ideas about how students can write about their reading in short doable ways that keeps the focus on reading, but also gives students a chance to document their thinking.

As a teacher, I have done book clubs when I taught fifth grade and now with my fourth graders. Honestly, I have done them different ways. Some successful and some WOW completely not successful! When I taught fifth grade my students were grouped by level, they were told what book they were going to read, and they would post-it their thoughts as they read. They would also meet once a week and I read the book with them. This meant that I was reading at least 4 books at one time LOL! Fourth grade book clubs were about the same. The difference was my team didn’t read the books with the kids, and I am not sure if they had previously read some of the books, but two years in….. we have used different books. So, I really had to go off of what they kids were saying were true. YES! You can tell if a kid is totally off the wall with what they are saying if it doesn’t match what other kids are saying, but for me to truly engage with my kids in conversation I would prefer to have read the book or be reading the book with them.

 So, with that being said… I have decided to do something completely different with book clubs in my classroom for the next school year.

  1. We will be using books by authors of color (Black, Indigenous, Muslim, Indian, Asian, etc) because most of the time my students are reading books by white authors and have white characters. This is not a bad thing, but I want my students to appreciate all cultures. I want them to learn about other cultures different from their own.

  1. I have created a list of books my students will choose from. They will have the choice of what they want to read. I will place them into groups accordingly. They will choose their top three choices. (If school is digital, I will also show you how my students will be choosing their books because we won’t be face to face for me to show all the choices).

  1. My students will be grouped by interest in the book they want to read and not by level. Think of it this way to branch out into doing something different. If we are online for school, we won’t have the chance to level students. We would have to go off of what we think the kids could read. 

  1. For students who have difficulty or if they would just rather listen to the book I have all the book choices on Audible. They will be required to follow along with the physical book, but they have the option to listen to it also. Students' listening comprehension will be better than if they were just reading the book.

 Overall my goal is for my students develop the ability to form ideas about books, talk about books, and appreciate books.

Here are my book club book selection:


Now if school is online, I have created a digital classroom with the book choices on the shelves. Students will put this up and each book will be linked to a summary/book trailer. This is how they will preview books. (I will also have a chance to talk about the book choice via an online lesson). Lastly, to choose students will have a Google Form to fill out their top three choices.  I will group them accordingly. Once students are grouped I'll create the meeting schedule. This will probably once or twice a week. My district is using Zoom if online learning is need, so I will be using their breakout room feature for students to discuss their books. Or, I could have a scheduled day where I meet with groups at different times of the day, if the break out rooms becomes too difficult LOL! I haven't decide. I know I want to be present during the discussions, so I'm leaning towards option two. 

Below is an example of what my library would look like if I were teaching online. Each book will be hyperlinked to a book trailer for students to watch or summary for them to read in order to learn a little about each book. 


I hope this give you some ideas on starting book clubs in your classroom whether it's in person or online. I will be continuing this series by talking about how students could document their thinking as they are reading. Stay tuned for part two!


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