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“Book Discussion Group Guidelines”


I’ve written before about the independent book discussion groups my students have begun in at our school library (see Two Ways I’m Using Our School Library).

They’ve been going quite well.

These are groups of students who go to our school library once or twice each week during the 20 minute independent reading time we have in class. There, the librarian has graciously agreed to supervise them, but they’re basically on their own.

The group who are potential candidates for the International Baccalaureate program are reading Bless Me Ultima, and have a series of specific questions they need to answer.

However, two other groups — one reading Always Running by Luis Rodriguez and the other Journey To The Center Of The Earth — are following these book discussion group guidelines (you can download them here as a hand-out). I thought readers might find them helpful, and I’m interested in hearing suggestions to make them better:

1) When you arrive at the library, please check-in with the librarian. Make sure she/he has a seating chart with your names.

2) Each person shares the one or two sentence summary they wrote about the chapter or chapters they were to read. Discuss which one you like the best and why.

3) Each person shares the connection (“this makes me remember….”) they wrote about the chapter or chapters they were to read. Please ask at least one question about each connection.

4) Each person shares the question they wrote about the chapter. Discuss what you think the answers might be to each one.

5) Each person shares what their favorite part or parts of the chapter was/were, and why they liked it.

6) Each person makes a prediction. What do you think will happen next in the story and why? Do you agree?

7) Decide as a group what chapters you will read by the next meeting.

8)Thank the librarian and return to class.

Students love being able to do independent work, and I’ve been shocked at seeing how some reluctant readers have become so enthusiastic about being in the groups. A few who never really stuck to any book before are reading at every opportunity now.

I’ll look forward to feedback on the guidelines…

I’ve found a list on the Web titled Bloom’s Taxonomy Book Review Questions. To tell you the truth, the questions aren’t the greatest, but the idea of giving students a list of questions related to Bloom’s and giving them their choice of which ones they discuss is a good one. I’m going to revise this list, but also wanted to know if anybody knew of better ones already out there that are specifically related to books.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Wow, the same day I see this in my reader, Mathew Needleman has a post on Literature Circles on his blog that’s good for Elementary/Primary:

    I think the most important takeaway is those question starters/prompts. Kids need to learn how to ask questions about books. Giving them high interest reading is probably your best guarantee that they will want to ask question.

  2. I would also require that one of their questions about the chapter be a discussion question. Sometimes I refer to these (with middle schoolers) as thinking questions or open-ended questions.

  3. Thanks for this very practical post! Two questions:

    1) Are all your students required to be in a group or is it a choice for those that want to read the same book as others?

    2) Do you hold your students accountable for this by checking that they have completed their “pre-work” or requiring one or more students to record what is discussed in the group meeting? Just curious!


  4. This year, we’ve started a focused reading class for ELLs. I’ve been looking for more ways to engage them in reading, to really get them hooked. So I was very interested when I came across this post. However, I read it about 3 years after it was originally published, so I wonder if you did find and/or revise the Bloom’s list of book discussion questions? If so, where can I find the updated list? Since I’m asking, have you made any other significant changes to how your groups function?

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