The Teachers' Mousepad

Literature Circles are groups of children reading the same book and then discussing it.

I am new to literature circles and have been doing a lot of reading and research on them. I
thought I would share some of my findings here.  One thing I have found is there is no one way
to conduct them!  I am having fun learning more about them! If you have resources or ideas you want to share, please let me know-
email me!



Facts About Literature Circles (LC)

~LC-are learner lead. That means the teacher steps back and facilitates while the children lead the discussions.

~Literature Circles combine independent reading with cooperative learning opportunities. 

~Literature circles do not replace reading instruction. They enhance it! They are excellent components of any balanced reading program (guided reading, shared readings, read alouds, and independent readings)

~LC are structured to help children engage in meaningful discussions. They are not free-for-alls!

~With literature circles, children choose the book they want to read and discuss.

~The groups (usually 4-6 children) lead the discussion themselves. Each group member has an assigned role such as these as described by Janet Lopez, a teacher in Alaska- Discussion Director, Literacy Luminary, Character Captain, Artistic Adventurer, Vocabulary Enricher (roles defined).

Education World has defined these roles:

  • Artful Artist uses some form of artwork to represent a significant scene or idea from the reading.
  • Literary Luminary points out interesting or important passages within the reading.
  • Discussion Director writes questions that will lead to discussion by the group.
  • Capable Connector finds connections between the reading material and something outside the text, such as a personal experience, a topic studied in another class, or a different work of literature.
  • Word Wizard discusses words in the text that are unusual, interesting, or difficult to understand.

~LC groups can be made up of mixed abilities.

~Different groups read different books.

~At each meeting, the children discuss what they have read and plan for their next meeting.  Group members decide what they want to talk about at each meeting. When introducing LC in your class, you will need to provide guidance on what the children should discuss.

~Groups members have opportunities to try each role before the year ends.

~Groups meet regularly to discuss their books.

~Group members are responsible for taking notes about what they have read so that they can have meaningful discussions with their group.

~The teacher serves as a facilitator, not the instructor.

~LC provide many opportunities for writing!

~Evaluation is done through teacher observation and students' self-evaluations/final projects.

~When students finish a novel they can decide on a fun way to showcase the book.


Selecting Books:

It is very helpful to have several selections for the groups to choose from. Make selections that fit the different abilities of your readers- low, average and high. Each child will need their own copy, so make sure you have multiple copies of each title. Scholastic book clubs are an excellent and affordable way to build your classroom library.  Let children preview books (guide them to selections that match their reading ability) and write down their top 3 choices. From there slot kids into the groups based on their preferences.


There are many ways to organize your groups. You need to find a way that suits you and your students.  The Literature Circle Resource Center has great ideas on how to set up LC.

Time Frames:

The younger the children the shorter amount of time is schedule for LC. Teacher modeling and involvement is more with young sets of children. Older children will be reading longer and more complicated books. They are working more independently and will need more time to complete their book selections.

The Literature Circle Resource Centers offers these guidelines:

1st Grade- 1 Week
4th Grade-3-4 Weeks
6th Grade- 4-6 Weeks.

Your student's reading abilities will also affect the time it takes them to complete a book. Make sure you factor that into your time schedules.

Students meet regularly to discuss their book selection. The number of days is up to you. Some teachers have students meet as many as 4 days a week while others meet only 1-2. You need to do what work s for you and your students.

Student Tasks:

Each group member has an assigned job. As they read, they take notes. They mark pages with sticky notes. They mark interesting text, word or pages they want to discuss.  Students must be active readers in order to be active group members during discussion time.





~Online Resources~

ABC Teach- free worksheets to enhance Literature Circles
Education World discusses Literature Circles and how to get them to work in your room
EdSelect- has a great list of LC resources and printables. offers a lot of literature circle lessons  and resources available to purchase
Literature Circles- a site by Janet Lopez, a middle school teacher in Alaska- great site with many printables that can be adapted for younger grades
Literacy Lessons from the Classroom of Laura Chandler
Literature Circle Resource Center-what a great site with tons of resources
Mr. Coley's Literature Circles Role Assignment Sheets



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Last Updated on 01/26/2007