Literature Circles



DanielsAccording to Harvey Daniels (2002), there are twelve ingredients of effective literature circles:

  1. Children choose their own reading material
  2. Small, temporary groups are formed, based on book choice
  3. Different groups read different books
  4. Groups meet on a regular predictable schedule
  5. Kids use written or drawn notes to guide both their reading and their discussion
  6. Discussion topics come from the students
  7. Group meetings aim to be open, natural discussions
  8. In newly forming groups, students play a rotating assortment of task roles.
  9. The teacher serves as the facilitator
  10. Evaluation is by teacher observation and student self-evaluation
  11. A spirit of playfulness and fun pervades the room
  12. New groups form around new reading choices

The Benefits of Literature Discussion include:

  • Children read more, and enjoy reading more
  • Misunderstandings are clarified
  • Children develop a richer understanding of the text
  • Children are not evaluated on their recall of small details, but rather on their ability to discuss the work thoughtfully and insightfully, while interacting appropriately with peers
  • No worksheets or artificial activities to complete
  • Less proficient readers gain insights from hearing others discuss their reading strategies.

(Creating Support for Effective Literacy Instruction, C. Weaver, L. Gillmeister – Krause, & G. Vento-Zogby, 1996)

Possible Literature Circle Roles (or develop your own according to your students’ needs):

  • Discussion Director
  • Passage Picker
  • Literary Luminary
  • Word Wizard
  • Artistic Designer
  • Travel Tracer
  • Summarizer
  • Connector
  • Background Investigator

Questions to consider:

  • How will you structure your literature circles?
  • How will you manage your literature circles?
  • What is your role as teacher during literature circle meetings?
  • How might you conduct a guided reading session during literature circle meetings?