The first step is to pick out books that are all different reading levels. Depending on the number of students you have in your classroom will depend on how many different books you have to choose from. I would recommend having at least three to four students in each lit circle group to facilitate a good discussion. You may have a theme for your lit circles. I have seen one done with the main focus on residential schools and I thought it was very powerful! It was great, not only were the students working on literacy skills, but Social Studies was also incorporated.
Once you have chosen the books, it is now time to share them with your class. With each book give the students a brief summary of what the book is about and the reading level. After each book is described, it is now time for the students to vote for their top three picks. Hand out a slip of paper with the numbers one through three, one being your top pick and three being your last pick. Tell the students you will do your best job to get their first or second pick.
If you are doing lit circles with a younger grade, you may not give them the option to choose their own book. At the younger age, they may not understand how to pick a good book that is suitable for their reading level. For lit circles to run successfully, you will need the students to be able to comprehend the story, so they can have meaningful discussions.
After the final decisions are made of who will be in each group, I suggest making a sign-out sheet of which student has which book. This will result in having no lost books at the end (fingers crossed). The last step to getting the students started is to decide on which day the groups will meet. I suggest having the times written somewhere in the classroom for students not to forget what day they are scheduled to meet.
In my next post, I will be discussing how to run a successful lit circles meeting.
*This way of running lit circles was developed by my sponsor teacher last year. (Helen Fall)*