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Lesson Plan

Literature Circles with Primary Students Using Self-Selected Reading

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Literature Circles with Primary Students Using Self-Selected Reading

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Five 30-40 minute sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English



From Theory to Practice



For self-paced literature circles, students choose their own reading material, respond to reading in a journal, and talk about their books daily in small groups. The teacher guides the work through structured prompts and by rotating participation with the groups. Students read at their individual levels, while heterogeneous grouping provides peer support. This lesson is a structured guideline for helping students learn to think about the books they read, and to ask questions about books shared by other students. It is especially appropriate for mixed-age and upper primary classes, or for cross-grade buddy work.

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In her article "Living and Learning; A Four-Year Journey into Literature Circles," Kathleen Burda offers an anecdote about a young reader in support of literature circles. When asked in a conference about the ending school term what she was most proud of, Caitlin gave the surprising answer that she was proud that she had become a reader and really liked to read. When Caitlin was questioned about why she thought that had happened,  Burda writes: "She said, 'Well, we read really interesting books and we get to choose the ones we want to read and we get to talk about them.' There it was: have interesting books, let them choose which ones they want to read, and then let them get together and talk about the books. In her response, Caitlin had not only put her finger on the basic elements of what literature study is all about, she had, in so many words, stated, 'This is why I am a reader.'"

This lesson will help your students become motivated readers like Caitlin by offering a guideline for hosting literature circles with self-selected reading and discussion in your classroom.

Further Reading

Burda, Kathleen. "Living and Learning; A Four-Year Journey into Literature Circles." Primary Voices 9.1 (August 2000): 17-23.


Gilbert, Lori. "Getting Started: Using Literature Circles in the Classroom." Primary Voices 9.1 (August 2000): 9-16.

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