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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
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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

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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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Benefits of Using Book Studies in the Classroom

How I Use Book Studies in My Classroom

Benefits of Using Book Studies in the Classroom

Book Clubs, Books, Reading
picture of three children laying on their stomachs and reading

As educators, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to engage and inspire our students, and book studies provide a fantastic opportunity to do just that. By immersing students in the world of literature, we can ignite their imagination, encourage critical thinking, foster empathy, and nurture a lifelong love for reading. In this post, we’ll look into the numerous benefits that book studies bring to the classroom, highlighting why they are such a valuable tool for both educators and students.

Improving Reading Comprehension

Picture of Cam Jansen Book Study packet and Cam Jansen the Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones book.

Book studies can improve reading comprehension by providing opportunities for discussion and clarification. By engaging students in a focused exploration of a specific book, educators create a structured environment that encourages deeper understanding. Through guided discussions, thoughtful questioning, and interactive activities, students are prompted to interpret the text, make connections, and extract meaning from the story. As they delve into the characters, plot, themes, and literary techniques, students develop a more nuanced comprehension of the material.

Book studies provide opportunities for students to practice essential reading strategies, such as making predictions, visualizing scenes, and drawing inferences. As a result, students not only become more proficient readers but also develop a greater appreciation for literature.

Fostering Collaboration and Communication Skills

Picture of 3 kids reading books laying on their stomachs.

Think Oprah’s book club and how book clubs provide a great opportunity for people to share and have conversations about a like text. Book studies offer a fantastic platform for fostering collaboration and enhancing communication skills in the classroom, all while having a great time together!

When students come together to discuss a book, they not only share their individual perspectives but also learn to actively listen and respect the viewpoints of their peers. Group discussions provide a safe space for students to express their thoughts, ask questions, and engage in meaningful conversations. These interactions promote critical thinking, as students learn to support their opinions with evidence from the text and respectfully challenge one another’s ideas.

Provides Students a Chance to Practice Written Responses

Book studies photo - Jake Drake Know-It-All book and book study packet

Book studies provide an excellent opportunity for students to hone their written response skills in a fun and engaging way! As students dive into the rich world of literature, they are prompted to articulate their thoughts, insights, and reflections through writing.

Whether it’s composing thoughtful journal entries, crafting persuasive essays, or answering reading comprehension questions, book studies encourage students to express themselves effectively in written form. This practice not only strengthens their ability to communicate ideas coherently but also cultivates critical thinking and analytical skills. By engaging in written responses, students learn to analyze literary elements, support their opinions with textual evidence, and develop their unique writing style.

Providing a Fun and Engaging Way to Learn

Book studies ignite a spark of curiosity and imagination. As students dive into the pages of a book together, they embark on thrilling journeys, encounter fascinating characters, and unravel captivating mysteries. This interactive approach to learning not only increases student motivation but also fosters a genuine love for reading.

By experiencing the magic of storytelling firsthand, students develop a personal connection to the books, making reading an engaging and fulfilling activity. The discussions, activities, and projects that accompany book studies add a layer of excitement, turning reading into a collaborative and dynamic experience. Book Studies can also be a great way to introduce authors and/or a series to students.

Book Studies FREEBIE

Photo of notebook with green paper card that says, "Share a connection you have to the story" with a pencil and Cam Jansen book.

Grab these FREE Discussion Question Cards for your students to use and respond to in their reading response journals. These generic questions will work with most fiction books. Click HERE to get the FREEBIE.

For More Info…

Photo of Surprises According to Humphrey book study packet and chapter book.

How I Use Book Studies in My Classroom

Book Studies on TPT

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New Book Study

Book Clubs, Books, Literacy Stations
I’m so excited to have my next book study up on TPT.  This book was one of my favorites from this year. I teach 2nd grade and this AR level is 4.8 so it is high, but many of my students were ready for the challenge. I picked this book specifically for one student who really loved reading historical fiction and non-fiction.  He enjoyed this series and I thought this would be a great book to create a book study on. 

Product Details

My next book study, now up on TPT is for I Survived – The Great Chicago Fire, 1871.  In this book study, you’ll find questions for each of the 15 chapters along with an answer key.  Some questions are more direct while others offer room for students to dig a little deeper – make predictions, infer, etc.  Check it out on TPT here.

 

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Book Study – Flat Stanley – Framed in France

Book Clubs, Literacy Stations
I finally have a new product up in my TPT Store.  I love these book studies and my students have been enjoying them too. My newest book study goes along with the book, Flat Stanley – Framed in France.  I use these during my literacy station time.  Certain groups are working on comprehension and vocabulary and these book studies fit in perfectly.  They work on reading with their partner or groups, answer the questions, and then we discuss as a small group like a book club.  They look forward to working on these every day!
 
Included in this packet:
-Title Page
-Vocabulary and comprehension questions for each chapter
-Answer Key
 
Check it out in my TPT Store here
 
Book Study for Flat Stanley - Framed In France

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Book Club/Book Study – Cam Jansen – Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones

Book Clubs, Books
One of my favorite things to do during literacy stations when I’m pulling small groups is to have a few partnerships or groups working on book clubs.  Book clubs are special (but not anything that takes a ton of extra prep for the teacher).  Kids love book clubs because they get some independence and they get to read and discuss a book like an actual book club. 
 
In my first and second grade classrooms, I’ve used book clubs for the higher readers that had mastered the phonics skills needed at that time or were quite a bit ahead on the phonics front from the rest of the class.  The reason I did this was because the other kiddos weren’t really ready for their own chapter book and the kiddos struggling with phonics or fluency really needed group time with me working on that the whole 15 minutes or so.  So, for the kids that were ready to move on from the phonics and fluency – that’s where these comprehension book clubs came in.
 
I’ve done them with partnerships or groups of 4 working on a book. I would not do more than 4- too many little people in a group to try to get a long and get the work done with.
 
During small group time, I would pull back the kids working on say Cam Jansen.  We’d discuss the chapter they read the day before with their partners and also go over the questions and answers. Then, I would assign the next chapter of reading and the next group of questions.  The good thing about this is that the check-in only lasts a few minutes. Then, the kids are working independently on their chapter and questions. While they’re working independently, I’m able to pull groups that need more time to cover missing skills.
 
You might be asking yourself, where does she get the questions.  Well, often I make them up.  I go through the book and come up with 3-4 questions per chapter. Then, I put together a little packet/booklet of all of them for the kiddos to work on as they go.  See my example below that is now in my TPT store.
 
 
 
Book Study for Cam Jansen - The Mystery of the Dinosaur Bones
 
 
Title Page
 
Character Circle Maps

 
Chapter Question Examples

 
Answer Key

 
 
Be sure to check out my first book club packet on TPT – Cam Jansen – The Mystery of the Dinosaur
 
Do you use book clubs? How do you use them in your classroom? Comment below – I always love to get new ideas and see how other are doing things in their classroom.
 
 
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