Recurring Lesson

Book Clubs: Reading for Fun

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time
Introduction: 50 minutes; thereafter: 10 minutes per session
  • Preview
  • |
  • Standards
  • |
  • Resources & Preparation
  • |
  • Instructional Plan
  • |
  • Related Resources
  • |
  • Comments


Three fourth-grade girls—Angela, Janie, and Su Ling, of varying reading abilities—had decided to read Lois Lowry's Number the Stars together. They met every other day to discuss what they'd read and to decide how much to read next. Their predictions of what would happen next came naturally in the discussion, and the group worked to sustain the mighty efforts of Angela, who had to work hard to keep pace with the others.

This "just for fun" book club was a student-organized, student-driven reading experience that built community in the classroom and encouraged students to read independently, taking responsibility for their literacy learning. This lesson describes how students can form their own book clubs, set ground rules that support community, and support one another's reading efforts.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

In discussing the need for book clubs, Raphael et al. state: "To learn to read well, all students need to read thought-provoking, age-appropriate books. They also need to respond thoughtfully to these books in talk, writing, and as they read other texts." (159) Book clubs are opportunities for students to choose what they read, when they read, where they read, how they read, and with whom they read. The key concept here is choice. In order to carry out book clubs successfully, students must work together to negotiate places and times to meet, along with the pacing and discussion of the books. They take on responsibility for their own literacy learning. They learn to value one another as readers and learners.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Multiple copies of texts for student groups to use, either from the library or your personal collection.

  • Chart paper and markers.

  • (Optional) Internet access to an online book club site where groups can post details about their readings.

  • (Optional) McClure, Amy and Janice Kristo, Eds. 2002. Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6. 13th Ed. Urbana, National Council of Teachers of English. This booklist may help the teacher choose books for students.




  • Gather multiple copies of books from your school's library or your personal collection.

  • Check online book club resources, such as the ones listed in the Websites section to find sites appropriate for your students.

  • (Optional) Set up a favorite books file—a notebook located near the class library will work. This booklist in Amy McClure and Janice Kristo's Adventuring with Books: A Booklist for Pre-K-Grade 6 may be helpful in choosing books and showing an example of book lists.

  • Make copies of reading portfolio forms and book review forms, in the Printouts section, if desired.

  • If desired for the extension, test the Graphic Map on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tool and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • establish community rules for group formation and interaction.

  • choose what to read and establish their own schedule for reading and discussing books, thus taking responsibility for their own literacy learning.

  • read for the sheer joy of it, learning to value one another as readers and learners.

Instruction & Activities

  1. Explain the Book Clubs process to students:

    1. Students decide what to read and with whom they want to read it. While the groups are generically named book clubs, you may wish to widen the options for reading to include such resources as magazines, Internet sites, short stories, and reference articles. For example, a group of students might read and discuss Sports Illustrated for Kids or a group interested in fairy tales might read the various versions of Snow White available at D.L. Ashiman's Snow White Website.

    2. Students read the book, discussing it along the way. The book clubs happen outside of school, at recess, and at times during small-group reading. Students meet every other day or so (or as often as they wish) to briefly discuss what they have read and to map out how much to read next. They may discuss what will happen next in the book, how they feel about what they've read so far, or how the book compares to other books that they have read.

    3. Students share the book with others or sign up and meet with you for a "lunch bunch" conference. A "lunch bunch" conference is an informal chat about the book that the club has finished reading. These sessions are held at lunch or recess, and you and students discuss the reading just for pleasure.

    4. (Optional) Book club members can post their reactions to their reading on an Internet book club site or add the book to the class's favorite books file (You may provide a review form for favorite books).

  2. Ask students to set ground rules for interacting in Book Clubs. As students brainstorm rules, write them on chart paper so that they can be posted in the classroom.

    Ideally, students will come up with rules that support community. The most important rule to establish is a "No 'ugliness' rule: "No 'ugliness' about who's reading what with whom." The rules should establish that there is no room for comments like "Sam's not allowed in our book club." All students should work hard to support one another's reading efforts. If students help set these rules themselves, they'll feel a sense of ownership that will give the rules more strength than a set of rules that you post without their input.

  3. Additionally, you and students may brainstorm "group-building" activities such as the following:

    • Groups may name themselves, decide on a club mascot, and so forth.

    • Each club may keep a group reading notebook or journal where they track their readings. They could decorate the journal as they desire.

    • Groups may decide on inquiry-based projects. For instance, a group might form to explore a special interest and search out specific information (for instance, a book club interested in soccer might seek out specific books related to that interest).
  4. After you've explained the process, allow some class time for students to discuss the activity and establish their first groups. Any students who are not interested in this voluntary activity can read on their own during this first session.


  • After students have met several times, ask them to think back over their readings. You might ask them to complete this reflection after they have completed a single book or after they have completed several books. Ask students to discuss their reaction to the readings and to reflect on how they enjoyed (or didn't) their reading. Students might write individually in their notebooks or journals or discuss as a group. Next, ask them to record their responses using the Graphic Map to map the highs and lows of their readings. If students have completed a single text, they can map significant events or chapters in that text. If they are mapping their reaction to several texts, each item can be compared as a whole or significant points in each item can be compared. Remind students to print their maps once they've recorded all their reflections. As their group meetings continue, this graphic organizer is a concrete product that students can return to. The printed Graphic Map can foster continued reflection and assessment on their reading and the project as a whole.

  • Ask students to create new book covers for the books that they explore, using the Book Cover Creator. The tool gives students options to add both text and images to their covers. The tool does not include an option to save the work, so be sure that students do enough planning that they will be able to complete their covers in one session.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Book Clubs are a voluntary, student-centered activity. The reading is not evaluated in the traditional way. When book club members join you in a "lunch bunch" meeting, you can rely on kidwatching to note how students are developing as readers; but there should be no formal assessment.

"Lunch bunch" meetings should be voluntary, not required. The meetings are an "extra" to encourage students' independent reading and chatting about the books.

If your students keep a reading portfolio or reading log, you should encourage, but not require, students to write about their book club readings in these documents as well. You may provide a form for reading portfolios to simplify recordkeeping for students.