What’s Happening This Week
There is much more to explore in our calendar. Find other important events in literary history, authors' birthdays, and a variety of holidays, each with related lessons and resources.
Looking for age-appropriate book recommendations, author interviews, and fun activity ideas? Check out our podcasts.
Oprah Winfrey launched her book club this week in 1996.
|Grades||1 – 12|
|Calendar Activity Type||Historical Figure & Event|
In September 1996, television personality Oprah Winfrey announced the first selection for her new book club, and her viewers responded by buying millions of copies of Jacquelyn Mitchard's The Deep End of the Ocean. Credited with starting a resurgence in the popularity of reading and book clubs, Winfrey went on to promote books by contemporary authors such as Toni Morrison, Ernest Gaines, and Barbara Kingsolver, as well as classic authors from Tolstoy to Faulkner.
Book clubs promote the social nature of reading and invite students to enjoy reading for its own sake. Even though individual readers might process text successfully in isolation, having the opportunity to discuss responses, share insights, and learn from the interpretations of other readers can be very valuable. Consider trying one of the activities below to get your own version of a book club started in your classroom.
- Within a classroom, have students form groups of three to five. Working with your librarian/school media specialist, have each group choose an appropriate book to read and discuss in place of an independent reading assignment.
- If you're feeling more ambitious, consider collaborating with colleagues on a larger book club model. Take the "One Grade, One Book" approach and have all students in a particular grade level read the same title. Discussion groups from different classes can share their responses at designated times. For middle school and secondary students, consider launching a "One School, One Book" intitiative and unite all the readers in your school around an appropriate title.
See the resources below for tips and suggestions on getting book clubs (large or small) started in your classroom or school.
- Tips on Starting a Book Group
This site provides questions that can help groups make basic decisions about what their group will do. Edit this site's list of questions to customize it for the specific needs of your students or group.
- How to Start a Book Club
Older students can use these guidelines from Oprah’s website to organize their book clubs. The list includes sections on how to host, getting things started, discussion questions, and growing your club.
- Breakfast Book Club: Feeding Bodies and Minds
This Education World online article shares experiences from three schools that began book clubs to nurture their students' love of reading. The article includes book recommendations and links to other programs and resources.
- Starting a Book Club in a Mid-sized Public Library: A Practical Guide
Although this online article focuses on an adult audience at a library (not students at a school), it provides honest and practical advice for starting a larger-scale book club project.
Grades 9 – 12 | Lesson Plan | Unit
In this activity, students read short stories and create presentations in multiple media to share in a Short Story Fair. At the fair, students explore and respond to the displays.
Grades 7 – 8 | Lesson Plan | Unit
Students form literature circles, read Esperanza Rising or Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Muñoz Ryan, use a Critical Thinking Map to discuss social issues, and use a class wiki.
Grades 3 – 6 | Lesson Plan | Recurring Lesson
Students are introduced to the Question-Answer Relationship (QAR) strategy through a read-aloud and question sort. Students then use the strategy to develop questions for a peer-led book discussion.
Grades 6 – 8 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
Students participate in learning clubs, select content area topics, and draw on textsincluding websites, printed material, video, and musicto investigate their topics, and share their learning using similar media.
Grades K – 2 | Lesson Plan | Recurring Lesson
Students respond to self-selected books in journals, and talk about their books daily in small groups. The teacher guides students by offering suggestions and writing with them in dialogue journals.
Grades 3 – 5 | Lesson Plan | Recurring Lesson
This lesson describes how small groups of students can plan meetings to discuss what they've read in a "just for fun" book club they've organizedand that they control.
Grades 6 – 8 | Lesson Plan | Recurring Lesson
In this lesson designed especially for girls, students read a work of realistic fiction and get to know strong female protagonists through online literary circles and writing activities.