Gearing Up for Book Clubs

I love book clubs!  How much more authentic can you get? During book clubs my kiddos are reading, thinking, responding, discussing, arguing, and acting as readers do in the "real world."  My fifth graders beg to do book clubs all year long.  They love sharing their thoughts about books with friends.  I try my best to squeeze in a session of book clubs in between each of our units.  And, it's that time again.  We just finished a nonfiction reading unit, so we're heading back to fiction for a short time (historical fiction to be exact) right when we return from break!

Guide to Book Clubs

Another reason I love book clubs is because my students are so self directed during this time.  Since they choose the books, determine their reading schedule, and pick their nightly response prompt (with guidelines of course) they enjoy the autonomy and their participation is much more avid than during times of the year when they are reading texts I've chosen.  Also, once you get books clubs rolling with a few mini-lessons about how to work in groups, what books clubs should "look" and "sound" like, how to be a good listener, procedures and expectations, the rest of the sessions run themselves.  I just monitor, assist and confer!  It's a beautiful thing.  I love nothing more than watching my students in action, while I'm in the back seat!!  That makes for one happy teacher!

Also during book clubs, I assess my students' understanding and application of historical fiction with daily exit slips in their reading response journals.  These quick formative assessments show me what each student is "thinking" while they are reading their historical fiction book club selection.

Historical Fiction Reading response journal prompts

So, if you're intrigued and want to try out book clubs or using exit slips during Reader's Workshop, OR if you already love book clubs/exit slips but are looking for some organizational assistance - maybe these products will help you out -

These Historical Fiction Reading Exit Slips will organize your Historical Fiction mini-lessons and keep you and your students accountable for reading and responding with purpose during Reading Workshop. Included in this set are 46 exit slips/response journal prompts that focus on genre elements, story elements, self selection, time periods, setting details, character inferences, plot, cause & effect, perspective, compare & contrast, quoting passages, theme, character change, self-assessment and much more.
Complete Guide to Book Clubs in the Upper Elementary & Middle School Classroom.  It's a 38 page resource, common core aligned, that includes EVERYTHING needed for book clubs (4th-8th grades) and it works with ALL novels.  All you need is the books!  The resource includes four weeks of lesson plans, formative assessments, student response journal, response journal prompt choices, group rating guide, fishbowl observation sheet, club captain recording sheet, summary graphic organizer, draft sheet and rubric, book recommendation organizer, draft sheet and rubric, and more!


  1. Your book clubs sound great! I've been doing Literature Circles for the last few years, but to be honest I'm getting bored by the rigity of the roles. I'd love to give this a try. :-)

    Mrs. Allen's 5th Grade Files

    1. I struggled with the role sheets too, I know what you mean! Writing a response instead of completing a role sheet is more authentic for my students. They choose a topic to guide their response but they can also write about whatever else they are thinking while they read.

  2. How funny! One of my book clubs is reading The Giver right now!
    I agree with you that once your clubs are up and running, it really is delightful to sit back and listen to their conversations!


  3. Love this idea!! Thanks for linking up! :)

  4. I agree with you about book clubs. I think they are one of the most authentic ways to conduct reading groups. Number the Stars is such a powerful book. A great choice for book clubs. Thank you!

    Fit to be Fourth


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