Literature Circles- During Reading Strategy


In literature circles, small groups of students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. The discussion is guided by students' response to what they have read. You may hear talk about events and characters in the book, the author's craft, or personal experiences related to the story. Literature circles provide a way for students to engage in critical thinking and reflection as they read, discuss, and respond to books. Collaboration is at the heart of this approach. Students reshape and add onto their understanding as they construct meaning with other readers. Finally, literature circles guide students to deeper understanding of what they read through structured discussion and extended written and artistic response. Each member of the group is assigned a specific "role" or focus during the reading. They each take the time to share their role and elicit discussion and sharing of opinion from their group members.

Some possible Literature Circle Roles are:

  • Discussion Director
  • Vocabulary Enricher
  • Visualizer
  • Literary Luminary
  • Checker

Why Use Literature Circles:

  • Literature Circles are a great tool because they are:
  • Student-centered
  • Reader-response centered
  • Structured to support students' independence, responsibility and ownership
  • Guided primarily by students' insights and questions
  • Intended to provide a context where students can APPLY authentic reading and writing skills
  • Flexible and fluid and are never the same thing twice
  • Structured to support ALL readers
  • Collaborative-learning based, the team members rely on each other and everyone must do their part.

Steps to Using a Literature Circle:

1. Make sure you have a firm understanding of the Literature Circle process.
2. Preview and read the books that students will choose among for this lesson so that you are familiar with the plot and literary elements. it is best to choose books that arouse emotions, are well-written, and are meaningful . The books should reflect students' reading levels as well. Gather copies of the books for each student group.
3. Make copies of the Literature Circle Role Sheets for students to use independently and as they practice. Overhead transparencies of the forms may also be useful as the class explores the requirements of each task.
4. Determine the literature groups ahead of class.
5. Explain the process to the students, the different roles and provide an example for each role.
6. Have the students split up into groups and assign the reading.
7. Provide a role sheet to each student, depending on their role.
8. Students will work independently at first to complete their role sheets.
9. Once everyone is done, they will discuss what they have read and each student will take turn leading the conversation, based on their role. The Discussion Director will begin.
10. You can have groups share with the whole class if you so choose.

Here is a link for a variety of Literature Circle roles and accompanying role sheets:

How I Would Use a Literature Circle:

I would have students split up into groups of four and each group will have a different Mexican folktale children's book that they will be reading in Spanish. They will each be assigned one of the following role:
-Discussion Director: Manages group and conversations; Comes up with questions based on conversation
- Vocabulary Enricher: Finds Spanish vocabulary words that they think are important to know. Defines them and explains why they choose the words.
- Cultural Encounter: Finds examples of Mexican culture and connects it to another text, culture, self or the world.
- Summarizer: Summarizes what happened in the book.

Students will share their roles with their group and then each group will put together a quick presentation that provides a synopsis of their folktale for the rest of the class, who read a variety of different folktales that they will also share.

Works Cited: