Why do readers enjoy book clubs? There are many reasons. Book clubs can be a way to spend time with friends, or make new ones; they can shake up a routine; and they can help a reader to better appreciate and understand a piece of literature.
Book clubs are fun! Whether you’re an adult or a young person, sometimes there’s nothing quite like connecting over a shared reading experience.
Facing History’s recently updated book club guide offers a comprehensive, practical, and adaptable set of instructions on how to create a group reading dynamic that can strengthen classroom community, decrease social isolation, and increase students’s motivation to listen to, encourage, and support one another.
A Book Club Guide: Centering Student Voice and Choice
Centering student voice and choice is a key component of Facing History’s approach to book clubs in the classroom. By allowing adolescents to have a say in what they’re reading and discussing, and helping them find texts that reflect their identities and experiences, while also giving them a window into others’s lives, students will feel more invested in the process—this can lead to them reading more on their own.
A four-year study of eighth graders where teachers shifted from assigned books to choice reading revealed an “increased reading volume, a reduction in students failing the state test, and changes in peer relationships, self-regulation, and conceptions of self.”
Within our book club guide you’ll find Facing History’s core principles for book clubs, ideas for where to source books for your classroom, planning questions, student activities and handouts, and tips that will allow you to plan an experience that engages your class and makes them excited to read in community with one another. In the planning section, there are reflection questions for teachers, such as, “How did the literature you read during adolescence mirror your experiences and expand your worldview?” and “What are your students’s interests and passions?”
There are many ways to design a collective reading structure that works. You can pick and choose the elements within Facing History’s book club guide that will best suit the learning needs and goals of your unique group of students.
Before you start planning your book club, we also suggest checking out our on-demand professional learning webinar Culturally Responsive Texts with Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul.
In just a little over an hour Dr. Cherry-Paul offers a deep look at how to apply the principles of anti-racism to text selection and classroom text study. When she brings a book to her class, she ushers her students through the reading by looking through the following lenses:
- doing heart and mind work
- affirming racial and cultural identities
- raising awareness and building critical consciousness
- providing prompts and pathways for discussion and reflection
Dr. Cherry-Paul emphasizes that “our identities are superpowers” and explains how to give students opportunities to become racially literate, understand the history of marginalization, and to affirm who they are.
Educators who’ve attended Dr. Cherry-Paul’s webinar have shared their positive takeaways from the session.
“I greatly appreciated how this webinar provided me with ACTIONABLE resources that relate to cultural relevance. I was very impressed with the variety of material packed into an hour. I can't wait to implement these resources in my classroom!”
“I am buzzing with thoughts, reflections, and excitement about what I have learned and how it can potentially impact my teaching and more importantly the students. Thank you, this was an exemplary webinar.”
“Dr. Cherry-Paul really challenged my thinking about what culturally responsive teaching truly looks like. I’m inspired to take more time to do both heart and mind work together.”