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Strategies for Running a Successful Book Study

Book Clubs, Books, Reading
Picture of 2 chapter books that could be used for a book study
Blog header for Strategies for Running a Successful Book Study

Using a book study in the classroom is a great way for students to practice fluency, build comprehension skills, learn how to write a response, and more.  I often use book studies with my second graders in the classroom and have also used them with first and third grade.

Book studies have many benefits including:

  • Improving reading comprehension
  • Providing opportunities for collaboration and independence
  • Giving students a chance to practice written response
  • Fun and engaging books to get students excited about reading

The first time you launch a novel study it can seem a little overwhelming.  I felt the same way too when I had my students work on their first book club.  But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  In today’s blog post, I’m going to share with you some ideas and things to think about to make it easy to launch your first book study in your elementary classroom.

Choosing the Right Book

Photos of chapter books - Surprises According to Humphrey and Cam Jansen

I take a number of things into account when choosing a book for a book study. First, I look at reading ability. I want to make sure the book I pick is just right. I don’t want it to be so challenging that they don’t understand, but also not too easy.

Second thing I look at is students’ interests. I want to pair students with books that they will be interested in. This is important for engagement and for building lifelong readers. I want students to enjoy what they are reading so I try to put them with books that they’ll be interested in.  

I also try to have students use books that are a part of a series. I have found that if a student enjoys one book, they can easily become hooked and want to read the whole series. This again can help with student buy-in and engagement.

At times, I will also provide students a choice with their novel study. I’ll pick out two books that I think would work for the group and then let them choose which one they want to work on.

Planning and Organizing a Book Study

Photo of chapter books - Ivy and Bean and Jake Drake

When planning and setting up the book study, I like to decide on a start date and get the whole group on board. I tend to use my small group and/or reading time as a time for the group to meet. 

Depending on the group, you’ll need to decide how you want them to work on the book club. For my more independent readers, I will often meet with the group the first time they start reading, but also give them some freedom to work on their own. I will then check in with them after each chapter to discuss and go deeper with comprehension questions. 

Some groups will need more guidance. Some groups I plan to have only working with myself or a volunteer/instructional aide. This requires some thought as to when you’re going to fit it all in.

Management

Photo of 5 kids reading a book together

For novel studies, you want to have clear and high expectations for students. Being a part of a book study is fun, but it is also a privilege. Before starting the book study, make sure to go over your expectations for the book study time. This way students know what is expected of them. I also review the expectations before I send them off to work independently as a group.

Volunteers

Photo of 4 students reading a book together in a library setting

Parent volunteers or instructional aides can be a great asset during book studies. I will often have parent volunteers work with one of the book study groups. This can help them stay on task and provide support if they need help reading or understanding.

Book Study FREEBIE

Photo of FREE Book study discussion cards

Grab these FREE book study discussion cards, which can be used with most books.

Book Study Resources:

Photo of book study pages from Nate the Great

If you are interested in book studies that are already created for you, check out my book study resources in my TPT store.

Favorite Book Study Books:

Photo of 5 chapter books used for successful book studies

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For more info…

Benefits of Using Book Studies in the Classroom

How I Use Book Studies in My Classroom

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