Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Goin' Clubbin'

I love that we are spending time discussing the benefits of incorporating Book Clubs into the language arts curriculum in an elementary school classroom. One question I have, that hasn’t been introduced yet in class, is: at what age should students be introduced to the idea of Book Clubs? I believe any student, as young as 5, could benefit from the concepts that coincide with Book Clubs; however, do the benefits outweigh the difficulties that would present themselves when trying to get children that young to understand and participate in such discussions? Should Book Clubs be limited to students in upper elementary? I’m in a fourth grade class, and I really wish my CT would’ve incorporated these activities with his students. The class is divided into reading groups and he meets with each group where they have discussion, etc. but I feel like the students are missing out. They lack opportunities to interact with each other, and learn the correct way to socially interact through the medium of a book discussion.

I can’t wait to introduce this idea to my future classroom. However, I think that the way we have been discussing this topic and exploring this topic in class has created a slightly “off” perception as to how easy/difficult it is. With all the ideas being thrown into the mix about having “reading roles”, writing prompts, student run discussions, etc., I feel like it’s easy to misconstrue exactly how much work this will be. It appears, on the surface, to be a very smooth running, classroom led, activity; but, I think that the only reason it appears this way, is due to the large amount of work the teacher has put into it. We’re not getting a look at the work that goes into this process at the start of the year. I would like to spend some time, as a class, discussing ways to introduce the idea of peer led discussions, correct ways to socially interact through book discussions, and how to respond to writing/reading prompts. Students don’t walk in on the first day of school, already capable of participating in an authentic Book Club discussion, it has to be taught; and I would love to spend time talking about THAT aspect in our TE class.

But as I was saying, a Book Club sounds like a wonderful tool to utilize in a language arts curriculum. I think that book clubs would GREATLY benefit student’s abilities to comprehend, as well as help each child develop the strategies necessary to aid in the comprehension process. Comprehension is fundamental to criticizing, questioning, analyzing, and responding to literature. A Book Club can teach students ways to read a story that will help them comprehend and therefore be better participants in class. As we said in class, Book Clubs and comprehension go hand-in-hand, and I think that teachers should take the time and energy to put a Book Club into place in their classrooms. There are SO many resources on the web to help in this process…take a look at a few here:

Planet Book Club

Great Schools



  1. Rachel,
    I was reading your post and realized your question about what age to present the book clubs to students, and thought I would offer what I have seen in my kindergarten class in relation to this topic. Although the students are not participating in full book clubs because they are not able to read fluently yet, I have seen the beginning stages of the discussion aspect of book clubs. For example, the students will listen to their teacher read a book and every several pages she will present the students with questions about what is going on with their stories and how that relates to their lives. At this time, the students will turn to their reading partner and have a discussion about this question. This is a way that they are incorporating discussion into their comprehension and reading, which to me, is the beginning stages of book clubs. Although I don't have all the answers as to what age to present students to book clubs, but I thought I would offer up my thoughts and experiences on the issues, so I hope it helps! Have you been seeing any type of book club work in your fourth grade classroom? Any jigsaw strategies like we did in Erik's classroom?

  2. I havent seen a lot of discussion about books in my class. My CT will have read a louds and they will discuss the story a little bit...but not in any way like we've done in class. I'm not sure why...the class would really do a good job with it! If we had more time to do lessons and what not in our field placements, that would totally be what I'd want to imcorporate. I'll just have to do it in my own classroom :) Thanks for the response though about your kindergarten class!