1. I have no more than six students in a book club at a time. This size allows me to only need 7 copies of each book (including mine), which saves on resources, and it keeps the small group feel to the book club. Students still feel comfortable to share and discuss important themes we read about with this size group.
2. My book clubs meet at lunch PLUS 20 minutes. Students go to the front of their class line on book club days so they can go through the cafeteria line first and report straight to my office. Or, they come straight to my office if they bring lunch. We have a total of 40-45 minutes together and can usually get about two chapters finished each week if we don't have an activity. On weeks we complete activities, we may only read one chapter.
3. I do not ALWAYS have students take their books home with them between meetings. In fact, I have only done it once with my Mr. Terupt book club because of the length of the book and students involved in that group. We usually only read in book club. Students volunteer to read individually, especially as they begin to feel more comfortable, or I read. We ALL read together every week with choral reading (reading in unison a few paragraphs or one page). This practice helps build reading fluency.
4. Every student has a job in book club. My jobs include:
Page Tracker - Writes the page number we end on each week
Timeline Tracker - Allows us to track the story events of the plot
Chapter Summarizer - Writes a two or three sentence summary of our chapters (I usually pick two students for this one so they can alternate)
Character Tracker - Keeps a running list of our characters in the book
Character Traits/Setting Tracker- Keeps a running list of setting locations and character traits displayed in the book.
5. I create booklets that students use each week for book club. They decorate their cover the first week to make them their own. Inside, there is:
(they brainstorm and decide on both)
A sheet for the student's specific job
(from list above)
Pre and Post surveys
6. I create a school counselor question guide for each book that
I use in book club. The guide lists the themes I want to include and specifies page numbers where I want to highlight what a character is doing or a situation that occurs. I will often incorporate my activities with the discussion our group has at these specific pages.
Here are some books that I have already used with my book clubs.
Gifted Hands by Gregg Lewis and Deborah Shaw Lewis. This book is a Zonderkids biography of the famous neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson. Dr. Carson is a tremendous role model who demonstrates the character traits of PERSEVERANCE, SELF-DISCIPLINE, RESPECT, and RESPONSIBILITY. This book is perfect for kids who may have struggles in their lives and need to talk about setting goals so they can overcome hardships and succeed. There is also a DVD version of the book, which you could watch after finishing the book. I used this book with fifth grade boys, but I think you could use it with fourth graders depending on your school population. There are religious themes in the biography, but it was not a problem with my school population.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. The plot of this book is more complicated so I used it with fifth graders. My group was all girls. There are great themes of friendship problems, boy/girl relationships, different types of families, and stereotypes. There are two curse words in the books and I blacked them out in each copy before we began the group. We just skipped over them as we read, and it did not affect my students. The end of the story is really interesting as students figure out the answers to the mystery.
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. Check out my Origami Yoda book club activity pack at the Life on the Fly Store and on TPT! It is the first book in a series of four that incorporates Star Wars characters. It is a great book for upper elementary boys. I used it with fifth graders, and they LOVED it! It covers themes of feeling left out at school, having interests that are "outside of the norm", boy/girl relationships, being "quirky", and bullying. Check out my post that covers more of the details of my book club for this one.
The Girls by Amy Goldman Koss is the perfect book for dealing with relational aggression. I have used this book with fourth grade girls, but it could be used with third grade and up. Each chapter is told through the eyes of one of the five characters. For this book club, I assigned each girl a character (we happened to have five students) and let them keep a running character bio using information from their character's chapter. It was interesting to see what they thought of their character's behaviors in the book. We had great discussion!
I recently got a Donor's Choose grant for some other books that I will be using in book clubs this year. I have also listed some books that I hope to use in the future. I have not read all of these books but will add more information as I read and use them. They are:
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and Louis Slobodkin. This book is great for discussing bullying and the importance of inner qualities vs. outer appearance. I plan on using it with third graders.
Crash by Jerry Spinelli. I haven't read this one yet, but I think it seems appropriate for fifth grade boys. Based on the review, it has themes of bullying, girl/boy relationships, and family issues.
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea. Check out my Mr. Terupt book club activity pack at the Life on the Fly Store! I loved using this book with my fifth graders to address coping with anxiety! Mr. Terupt is a teacher who makes a significant impact on the lives of the characters in the book, who are all facing their own specific issues such as family change, relational aggression, and academic struggles. I also love the way they use multiple perspectives to tell the story.
7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Covey. I have always wanted to use a Covey book with students, and this one is full of short stories of animal characters showing the different habits Covey is emphasizing. I have no idea about grade level until I get a chance to see how basic these stories are, but I love how Covey focuses on specific behaviors for being successful.