The power of working together to make meaning cannot be underestimated for challenged readers, whether their challenges are related to language, learning, or motivation. Katherine L Schlick Noe
Literature Circles can probably best be described as book clubs for the classroom. It is an effective, research-based literacy strategy that combines the principles of cooperative learning, independent reading and group discussion. With a focus on real conversations about good books, students meet in small groups to read, discuss and respond to the texts they are reading. As they put forward their thoughts and opinions, and listen to those of their peers, they become active readers who are practicing effective reading strategies and creating new understandings.
Literature circles help students :
"Looking into Literature Circles" with Harvey Daniels
One way to encourage engaging and thought-provoking discussions, is to reframe the Literature Circle around an essential question that is relevant to the text being read. Essential questions are those that spark our curiosity and make us wonder about the world. They are drawn from issues, comcerns, interests or themes that are relevant to students’ lives. Students dig deeper and are more engaged when they are discussing a question or problem that has meaning to them.
Examples of essential questions include the following:
In this short video clip, Jeffrey Wilhelm talks about teaching literature through inquiry.
Teacher Michael Pellegrin has used literature circles with his students for a number of years. Although there is no one way to use literature circles, Mike’s classroom experience and the teaching strategies that work for him provide valuable information and insight for teachers who want to give them a try. You can read more about Mike’s experience by clicking here.
The Literature Circles Resource Center web site is based on the premise that there is no one way to do literature circles. It is worth checking out.
Teacher Laura Candler’s website Teaching Resources provides an excellent description of various literature circle models.
Laura also gives specific directions to setting up Classroom Book Clubs - a flexible, relaxed approach to literature circles.
Literature Circles : Getting Started for grades 3-6 explains how to incorporate roles into your literature circles.
"Learning to Question to Wonder to Learn" by Jamie McKenzie provides additional ideas for using essential questions.