How To Start Book Clubs in Your Classroom

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Starting Book Clubs in the Classroom

Book clubs are one of my favorite times of the day! It’s magical to see your students in the zone, engaged in books that make them oh so happy! The best part is that it builds upon their comprehension muscles and makes them much stronger readers.

In my class, students are grouped by reading level and collaborate with peers in the same series. Over the years, I’ve compiled a list of my student’s favorite series and organized them by reading level. This makes life so much easier whenever my kiddos are getting the itch to switch series. I simply just  whip out this chart and pick another engaging title. Woohoo for organization!

You can grab your copy HERE!

What do you need in order to start book clubs in your classroom?

Your students should first be reading at least on a level J (18) to start book clubs! That’s why I’ve only included book series on a J or higher in this chart.

Your students will also need notebooks and sticky notes to get started! THESE are my favorite notebooks to use and all teachers LOVE colored sticky notes, am I right?! You can seriously NEVER have enough! So grab some extras HERE from Amazon! 🙂

Setting Book Club Goals

Before the reading actually begins I like to set goals with my groups. I pull them one group at a time and we discuss what book clubs look like and sound like. I inform them how they should be reading at least two chapters a day, with at least one sticky note written about BIG IDEAS from each chapter. If they’re reading at least two chapters a day, they should be able to easily finish one book a week!

Using the Blurb to Write Sticky Notes

A big thing that kids who are starting chapter books need to be doing is reading the blurb, so I drill that into my youngin’s. This is also where the BIG IDEA (most important part) is connected to. The blurb is full of useful information that your students will need to keep in mind as they read through each chapter. If this is your student’s first time, I would read the blurb together as a group and scaffold them into telling you about it. Ask them questions such as “who are the characters”, “where are they” what’s the problem”. After a quick discussion, model for them how to turn their thoughts into sentences. I always tell my second graders, “if you’re reading big chapter books, you should be able to write strong sentences about them”! Focus on just one big idea to track throughout your text at first, like tracking the problem. Once your students get used to the process, let them branch out.

This is an example of a sticky note I wrote about Cam Jansen The Mystery of the Babe Ruth Baseball. The pink one is from the blurb. After reading the blurb, my students discovered the problem (the baseball was missing) and we wrote out a statement on our sticky note. Side note: I have my students store the blurb sticky note inside the front cover until they’re done reading. 

Connecting your Chapters to the Blurb

The green sticky note is for Chapter 1. After we read the first chapter, we stopped and thought about what we just read. Then, we connected it to the blurb. In chapter one, they realized that the baseball was missing. So we created a statement and wrote it down on our sticky note. Side note: For beginners, I would be satisfied with just one sentence. As your students get stronger at writing sticky notes, teach them how to extend their thoughts. You can find lessons and anchor charts about this HERE.
Use this anchor chart to teach your students how to connect your chapters to the blurb! Here’s an example of some of my sticky notes — I’m a little OCD and typed these up for my long term sub to use while I was on maternity leave. I couldn’t have my kiddos falling behind while I was out! 🙂

What do you do with the book club sticky notes?

Now, imagine your students happily done with their series. What do they do with all those sticky notes!?

I first remind them that they should each be numbered for each chapter they were working in. (See the green sticky note above) I then, have my students pull out their Readers Notebooks and designate a page for their finished book. They will add a title and keep all their sticky notes here. Next, give your kiddos an index card to tape in their notebook and wah-la! Sticky note storage at its finest!

More Book Club Work

When my students are done putting their sticky notes into their index card pocket, I teach them one more way to dig deeper into their reading. I pull them together as a group and further explain characteristics of reading that they will see in their leveled series. Whether that is about character change, scenes vs settings, or internal and external traits like this:

There are countless different lessons that can be taught to further engage your students and build on their comprehension. Each topic gives them a little bit more work to do in their Readers Notebook and more to discuss in their book club meetings.

Book Club Discussions

After your students have completed their series book, which should take them about a week, they’re ready to discuss their thinking with their club members!

I have my students use THESE free discussion stems and questions which is perfect for building comprehension and keeping kids engaged! I love how diverse these stems can be. Your students can meet and discuss them orally, or they can pull out their Readers Notebooks and write/draw about them next to their sticky note pocket! 🙂

Show them this full proof process once and they’ll be set for the whole year, giving you more time to work with your low babies!

More Book Club Resources

Still craving more information on how to implement book clubs or character studies perfectly? No worries… These mini lessons are fully scripted with sample anchor charts that are perfect to get you started!

One series my students NEVER get tired of is Cam Jansen! There’s just something about second graders and mysteries!! They always dive in head first in these books and truly enjoy completing the work that goes along with it. They like this series so much that I created several activities to go along with the Cam Jansen books I have. These packets include comprehensive questions for EACH chapter with an answer guide. This part could also could be used as an assessment – hello free grades!!! It also has activities for sequencing events, character study with external and internal traits, envisioning the setting, and guided questions that could be used in a book club discussion amongst your students! Like I said, I have several copies available in my TPT store. Click HERE for one of them and feel free to bounce around my store for other books in the series!

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