Getting Started with Book Clubs...

Getting Started with Book Clubs

One of my very favorite activities in my fourth grade classroom is book clubs. I absolutely love watching the students discuss their books & take ownership of their learning. Participating in book clubs is so important because it not only fosters students' comprehension but also encourages students to use accountable talk & participate as a part of a group.

There are a few options to choose from when you're getting students started in book clubs. While grouping students, you may:
1. Group by their reading level & have students in each group read the same book. 
2. Pick a topic or theme & have students read different books within their groups that focus on the topic. 
3. You can group students according to their interests & let them choose their own book for their group.
4. Choose an author & have each group read a different book by that author.

In my class, I group students into leveled reading groups & each groups reads a book that is at their independent reading level.

Getting Started
At the beginning of the year, to get book clubs started in my classroom, my whole class reads the same book. I usually try to pick a short, fun read that I know they will like. I choose to do a whole class book because it helps us get our feet wet rather than diving right into small group book clubs. We can really focus on the expectations for each job in the group & how a book club can run smoothly. 

Each student receives a folder with prongs, notebook, pack of post its, bookmark, glue stick, pencil & a large size ziploc bag.
If you'd like extra protection for student folders you can use sheet protectors in the folders. I always get the name brand Ziploc bags & they really do last a long time, even through the wear & tear of desks, lockers & backpacks. And the large size bag fits most books & composition notebooks too. I have students keep their books, notebooks, & post its in the bag to protect them.
I've had many ripped covers & missing pages over the years, and I can honestly say the Ziploc bags truly work to prevent wear & tear!

In the student folder are important pages such as: expectations, planning pages, job descriptions, when to stop & jot, using accountable talk in groups, & a contract. These pages can remain for each book club throughout the year. And pages that are specific for each book can be changed in & out.

If you don't like the idea of a folder, you can have students glue these pages right in the front of their notebooks. I also make a quick reference guide for students to refer to about each job. They love using this little flip book as a guide, it is especially helpful when just getting started! You can also stick a magnet on the back of this guide & encourage students to keep it right on the fridge at home as a reference.

Week 1: I show the students THIS TeacherTube video of students participating in a book club. We make an anchor chart of things we notice about the discussion students are having. This anchor chart stays up for students to refer back to. 

We go through book care, expectations for book clubs, our reading contract, each job, when to stop & jot & how to stop & jot, how to plan out the reading, and the schedule. As we review each of these pages, students add in to their folders.

When it comes to our book club on Friday, we sit in a large circle and everyone participates; sharing their notes, questions, thoughts & job they completed. They are usually timid in this first meeting & that is why we sit as a whole group. The students that are not comfortable yet can easily observe. 

Week 2: When we meet for our book club, I use a fish bowl model. I do two groups of students: remembering those that were very active last week & those that were timid, I mix them up so each group has students that I know will participate & some I hope will open up more. Group one sits in a big circle on the outside, observing, as group 2 sits in a small circle inside the bigger circle so group 1 can observe their discussion. I sit in group 2 & participate in the discussion to model what a good participant & listener does. When group 2's discussion is over, group 1 gives them positive feedback. They point out everything they noticed about their discussion. Then they switch! This gives everyone a chance to observe & to participate!

Week 3: We discuss the accountable talk that we noticed in the TeacherTube video from week 1 & from our friends in week 2. We also discuss any struggles students may be having; keeping up with reading, taking notes, participating in the book club. And as students are sharing their struggles, others can help by sharing how they've managed to keep up & prepare. We continue with the fish bowl model as we did in week 2, but I create two new groups so they are different groups from last week.

Week 4: At this time, students have had a chance to participate & observe some great book club discussions for 3 weeks. I usually spend 4 weeks on a book, so by this week, they have now finished the book. I separate them into small groups.
My class is grouped by their reading level for our guided reading groups, so I have them get into those groups. I sit with each group for their book club, but I try to be much less active than I was in the previous weeks. They may still need some help, but they're definitely ready to discuss & starting the small, leveled groups at the end of the book works well because they love to discuss the ending! I also introduce the reflection page & model in each group how to reflect upon their discussion & participation.

At the end of the 4 week book club, students usually work on a project, whether alone or with their group, referencing the important story elements of the book they've read. Student work time on the project then gives me time to reassess student reading levels with running records & create new groups for the next book club. They work on the project for the week & then we start new book clubs; for a total of 5 weeks for each book. After the whole group trial period, we start small, leveled book clubs. And after the whole group modeling, students are usually very clear about their role in the book club. Book clubs then become a regular part of our guided reading block & students can run them on their's a beautiful thing! 

I have seen student comprehension strengthen immensely through book clubs in my classroom. Students are not just reading & answering questions, but discussing, answering each other's questions & digging deep into the meaning of high interest books with their peers. It is always a favorite time of the week for me & my students.  Here is a free page from my book club pack.  My students keep this in their folders to help guide them in their book clubs.  Click on the image below to grab this freebie!

You can check out all of the materials that I use for my book clubs HERE.

I'd love to hear about your book clubs too! Leave me a comment & let me know what book clubs look like in your classroom!

Happy Teaching!


  1. I have been thinking about starting book clubs with my fourth graders this year and was so excited to see this post. I quickly grabbed the resource from tpt. I'm wondering if you would possibly share some titles that you've used with your class that have worked well. Thank you so much for the help! I'm excited to get started!!

    1. Hi Taryn! So glad this is helpful to you! At the beginning of the year you could take an interest survey to see what your students like to read. I like to start with Judy Blume's "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing." It's funny & keeps them engaged. I also like Andrew Clements, Jerry Spinelli, Roald Dahl, & Kate DiCamillo, to name a few. I hope your class loves doing book clubs!! They are such a fun & meaningful activity!

  2. This will be so helpful to me starting 4th grade next year. Thanks, Jen!!

    The Eager Teacher

  3. I have a silly question but did you make the labels yourself?? :)

  4. Hi, Kelley! I did make the labels & print them on 2x4 Avery labels. They are included as a part of the Book Club Pack. Hope this helps! :)

    1. Thank you- I actually saw that right after I asked that and then bought the pack. Thank you!!

    2. Sorry if I missed it but the first book you read as while group....are they reading aloud or independently?

      Would you mind mentiowning some books you have used for the first whole group club?

    3. Hi Monica! They do read it independently but we meet as a whole class to start.

      I teach fourth grade and I've used Tales of a fourth Grade Nothing to start because it is a level that works at their independent reading level, but even for the kids that might find it to be an easy read, they love it and can relate to it! I find it to be a great beginning of the year book.

      I also love Andrew Clements and Kate DiCamillo books because they appease to all leveled readers. Hope this helps!!


  5. Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. Tamilnadu Ration Card Download


Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig