3 Tips for Running Successful Student Led Book Clubs

3 tips for running successful books clubs

Have you always wanted to run book clubs in your classroom, but you're just not sure how to set them up, keep your readers accountable, or get your students reading, writing and talking deeply about books?

Are you thinking book clubs are impossible because you don't have sets of books for your students to read?

And how in the world will you get your curriculum standards taught if you're doing book clubs?

Or maybe you're not even sure what book clubs should look and sound like? 

Before you write off book clubs forever, envision your classroom readers excited about choosing books, encouraging each other to finish books, envision them helping each other to build comprehension, keeping each other accountable for writing thoughtful journal responses full of deep thinking.  Envision a community of readers who want to read, not just for you but for their peers and eventually, for themselves!  

It won't happen over night.  But it will happen if you believe!

book clubs in the classroom

Tip # 1 - Envision Piles of Book Club Books Everywhere

Let's start by squashing the thought that books clubs are impossible because you don't have access to sets of books.  Log on to scholastic.com right now, register yourself if you don't already have an account and sign up to receive a set of classroom book order flyers.  When they arrive send them home, make a big deal about how Scholastic books are up to 40% off publisher prices and you can't find a better deal anywhere.  

If that doesn't work, remind (beg) your student's parents that every book they buy earns bonus points for your classroom.  These bonus points will buy you your book club sets!!  You won't have to spend a penny.

Or, if you're like me and you can't wait on those bonus points (you can spend them on more book club sets later) scroll down the flyer and find the $1 books! Every month Scholastic offers different dollar books that are quality literature!  This month's choices are: 2nd grade - Stone Fox and The Puppy Place: Mocha, 3rd grade - Black Lagoon #15, 4th grade - Shiloh, 5th grade - Tuck Everlasting and 6th grade -Pictures of Hollis Woods.  

You could buy 5 copies of each of these books and have your first set of book club books in a week - differentiated for all your reading levels - and for only $30!

Did I mention tax write off????

Here's the current set of book club books we're using to analyze character development.

use scholastic to purchase sets of book club books with bonus points

Tip #2 - Envision Your Students Practicing ALL the Standards

Book club books purchased ✅

Now, how in the world will you cover your district's curriculum expectations while also doing book clubs?  There just isn't enough time!!  Or is there?

But seriously, the great thing about teaching the standards is that they can be applied through ANY book!

And book clubs offer the perfect way for your students to authentically practice the standards you need to teach.

All you have to do is make a list of skills your standards cover. Teach each standard as a mini-lesson that the students will apply during reading.  They will write about the skill in their response journal and talk about the skill with their club.  Sound like a lot of work?  I've got you covered! If you're short on time and you're looking for a list of skills that are already compiled, with lesson plans and resources attached, then you need The Complete Guide to Book Clubs for Upper Elementary and Middle School Students.

How to organize and structure book clubs in your classroom

The Complete Guide to Book Clubs in the Upper Elementary & Middle School Classroom is a 38 page Common Core aligned resource designed to lead your classroom successfully through book clubs from start to finish. 

This resource will work with ALL novels. Get your students self-selecting books, creating a weekly schedule, reading daily and writing responses, working within a book club of students to construct meaning (based on the common core standards), rating, summarizing, and recommending quality literature.

Tip #3 - Envision Thoughtful Discussions and Journal Responses

Books bought ✅
Lesson plans done ✅

What next?

How do your students magically start writing and responding to their reading with thoughtful discussions and journal prompts?  Well it's not magic. But it is peer pressure. The good kind.

writing journal response prompts for book clubs

When your readers stop performing for you and have choice over the books they read, scheduling their assignments, choosing their response prompts, and leading their meetings; they start caring about being a contributing member of a group. And that caring rubs off and builds real readers who truly enjoy sharing books and their thinking with others.

One way we model what thoughtful book clubs should look and sound like is through fish bowl meetings.  I randomly select a group of the day and they hold their meeting in front of the class while the rest of us observe.  I love sitting back and watching my readers shine during a fish bowl meeting and my other readers get so much out of seeing a book club at its best.  We talk about what went really well and what needs more practice and then the remaining clubs head off to have their own meetings and to apply what they just learned from the fish bowl meeting.

use fish bowl recording sheets to observe your book club meetings

You can grab this fish bowl recording sheet and MORE in The Complete Guide to Book Clubs for Upper Elementary and Middle School Students.

I hope the 3 tips I've shared with you have alleviated your worries and have left you thinking, "Why didn't I start book clubs sooner?"

Why do I care so much? Because book clubs are my happy place.  Seriously.  The choice, autonomy, self-direction, motivation and authenticity of student-led book clubs make my teacher heart smile.


  1. I would love to win a set of Judy Blume's Blubber. That was my favorite book when I was younger😊

    1. I also loved Judy Blume when I was younger! She taught me so much about growing up. :)

  2. I would love to win a set of Becuase of Mr. Terupt! I think this a book I could get all of my students interested in.

    1. It's such a great book. And I love that there are sequels the students want to read when they finish the first book!

  3. I'd appreciate the book "Bud,Not Buddy" My kiddos also love Judy Blume's "Superfudge" series.

  4. My 5th grade team is piloting the Reader's Workshop model this year, and it's definitely challenged us a bit. We tried Book Clubs at the start of the year, but just didn't have the resources or materials needed to get them off the ground. However, we are now in week two of Book Clubs and the kids are LOVING them! I would love to expand my library (as a first year teacher, my library is pretty minimal...) so I can do clubs throughout each unit.

  5. What great ideas! I especially love the fish bowl idea! What a fun and engaging way for students to learn from each other!

  6. Thank you so much for all your awesome stuff and participating in this giveaway!

  7. I love these ideas! I have recently began Book Clubs with my students. I would love to add Stone Fox to my collection!

  8. Love all the tips. I'm guilty of wanting to try it but being overwhelmed by all of the prep work involved!

  9. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I think this approach looks easier to manage (than the traditional one with assigned roles). Definitely wish-listing this on tpt and plan to purchase soon!

  10. I just recently started book clubs and am always on the lookout for good books. Any of these sets would be great, but I would love to win a set of Because of Mr. Terupt! Thanks for a great post! Pinning this!!

  11. I would love to win Because of Mr. Terupt. Thank you for the giveaway!

  12. I would love to when Because of Mr. Terupt.

  13. Thanks for the giveaway! I'd love a set of Because of Mr. Terupt.

  14. Thank you so much for the giveaway! I love using Book Clubs in my reading classes! I would love a set of "Because of Mr. Terupt"!

  15. Thanks for the opportunity! I would like Because of Mr. Terupt.

  16. I would love to win Bud not Buddy or Mr. Terupt

  17. Thanks for the opportunity! I would like to read Because of Mr. Terupt.

  18. Such great ideas! I love Scholastic book orders. I can't believe some teachers opt not to participate!

  19. I would love to win "Because of Mr. Terupt"! Please and thank you :)

  20. I would love some Fly Guy books for my kiddos.

  21. I would love a set of Because of Mr. Terupt to use with my class for book clubs!

  22. I'm new to 4th grade so I need upper level books, mine are all for 2nd grade!

  23. Anything Judy Blume. They are such great reads.