What is a Literature Circle?
It’s like a book club for kids. The children (grades 2 – 5) choose books they want to read, and create reading groups with children who want to read the same book. At ISE our Literature Circles meet once a week (Thursdays) to discuss their books and set new reading goals.
Why do Literature Circles?
My first and favorite reason is because for many children it’s fun. Our goal is to instill in our students a love of reading, and scheduling time to read with friends is just one of the ways we share this belief. Secondly, Literature Circles promotes tolerance and respect – it’s part of our multicultural education. When children discuss their various perspectives on a text, they are learning how to appreciate and respect different opinions and insights. Finally, in Literature Circles children can learn how to apply the comprehension strategies that make reading more meaningful.
How do children use comprehension strategies in Literature Circles?
This semester I have provided the Magical Minds with some Comprehension Strategy Cards to help them bring their thinking into Literature Circles. Each card has three parts. The top third describes the kind of thinking. The middle section provides some sentence starters to use when talking about their thinking. The bottom box gives some extensions for kids who are “ready for a challenge.”
This week the Magical Minds will focus on just ONE kind of thinking. The cards will guide their thinking and note taking, and when they join their Literature Circle, they will be charge of sharing their thoughts. While their group meets, one person will be in charge of documenting their conversation on a guide sheet.
What is expected of the children during Literature Circles?
Not every group is ready to talk about their thinking in Literature Circles, while other groups are ready to be challenged to make meaningful connections or think about the author’s craft. This semester I crafted a guide for our Literature Circles to help express my expectations. You will see how as the children rise up the ladder, they incorporate more and more types of thinking (comprehension strategies). I have asked the Magical Minds to circle where on the ladder they think they are at in order to help them become aware of their own reading development as well as help them set goals for themselves.