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Literature Circles and Book Talks to Complement Reading Workshop

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 2/14/2012

Some teachers will run literature circle groups to go along with reading workshop. With literature circle groups, four or five students are reading the same book, which they chose from a list of books on the same theme or by the same author. Teachers will also allow students to give book talks.

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    Literature Circle Groups

    Reading workshop can take place at the same time as literature circles. Often, educators think old school when they think of activities for literature circle groups.

    Literature circle groups are NOT old-fashioned reading groups. They ARE meeting with four or five students, who are all reading the same book. Many teachers run literature circle groups once a quarter to complement reading workshop. It is hard to manage both if you only have one teacher in the room or a large class, so again, you have to decide what works for you and your students.

    To form literature circle groups, decide on a theme or author. For example, if you are studying slavery in the United States, then you may want fiction books about this topic. Choose six or seven on different reading levels. Present the books to your students during mini-lessons for reading workshop, and have them write down their top three choices. According to these choices, assign students to literature circle groups.

    Students read a certain number of pages of their books each week, respond to their reading in a reading journal, and meet with you and the other students to discuss the story during reading workshop time. They can choose to read this literature circle book during reading workshop, or they can read it at home. While you are meeting with literature circle groups, other students can be focusing on reading workshop or another task such as study hall time or spelling work.

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    Book Talks

    Book Talks can also be used with reading workshop and literature circles.

    When students finish reading a book during reading workshop, they can sign up to give a book talk. Book talks are similar to old-fashioned oral book reports, except they are usually informal.

    When a student gives a book talk, he or she will hold up a copy of the book and tell the title and the author. He can ask if anyone in the class has read the book or another book by the author during reading workshop. Then he gives a short summary of the book, but he doesn't tell too much.

    For example, if a student is giving a book talk on a mystery she read, then she should not tell who stole the money or how the detective figured out the guilty party. She should give enough information to catch the interest of her classmates without giving too much away.

    When the student is finished giving a book talk, you can allow other students in your class to ask questions. Some good questions for students to ask are, "What would you rate this book from 1 to 10?" "Was this book challenging or easy to read?" "Who was your favorite character?" and so on.

    Book talks can improve students' oral presentation and questioning skills. You can also use them as an assessment tool for reading workshop.

Running a Reading Workshop in Your Classroom

Using real literature in the classroom is crucial. This helps students enjoy reading books at their levels and with their interests. How do you hold them accountable and teach important reading skills? It's simple with a little organization!
  1. Managing Reading Workshop Activities
  2. Teaching Reading Skills During Reading Workshop
  3. Literature Circles and Book Talks to Complement Reading Workshop