How to Run Successful Lit Circles

The first step is to make sure every student understands the expectations of what to bring and what happens during a lit circle meeting.


  • Bring your lit circle book
  • Bring a pencil
  • Bring a short description of what you read (“say something blurb”)
  • Bring a positive attitude  🙂

A way I experienced lit circles ran was by having students bring a “say something blurb” to the group meeting.  With this “say something blurb,” it could have connections they had made with the book, a description of what had happened, or a prediction of what they think may happen next.  You may set deadlines for where each student should be at for the next lit circle meeting or could let the students read at their own pace.  If you decide to let the students read at their own pace, there must be a final deadline of when the book is to be completed and the assignments.  At the start of each meeting discuss who has read the least so they can share first and have nothing spoiled for them.  You will have to do a gradual release and after each student shares, they will then return to their desk.  With not giving a deadline for each group meeting, it makes it so the student who has read the most will only have one person to share with.   This is why I would recommend setting deadlines, that way you have the full group participating for the full time.

As each student discusses what they have read, connections, or predictions, every member of the group must then ask at least one question regarding the text.  It may be a good idea to have prompts for the students to use because often they will not come with questions prepared.

Below is a prompt and probes question sheet that could be used:

The teacher may have to facilitate the first few lit circle meetings to get the ball rolling.   After a few meetings, you should hope that the conversations the students are having start to sound more natural/organic and they don’t need the Prompt and Probe sheets as often.

There are many other ways to run the lit circle meetings, this was just a successful way I witnessed in an intermediate classroom.

My next post will focus on assessment regarding lit circles!



4 Replies to “How to Run Successful Lit Circles”

  1. I remember Mary-Lynn talking about how much she loved lit circles and how they are such a useful strategy for reading. I really liked how you laid out this post and how easy it was to follow along. I think its super important for students to build connections to what they are reading and lit circles seem like a really good way to build comprehension, especially for some struggling readers. I really loved the reading prompts, and a good way to get students to talk about it!


    1. Thanks Nan 🙂
      Yes, lit circles are a great way for students to start building connections to what they are reading. It also helps with comprehension because if they do not understand a part in the book, they can always talk to their lit circle group to get clarification. I found the prompts very helpful for some students who did not know where to start with asking questions.

  2. I also was very interested in the concept of Lit Circles when Mary-Lynn spoke about it as well. I did not have a chance to look more into this in my previous practicum. What age group are you working with this year? And would you recommend a minimum age group to work with in this way? I am currently learning about Guided Reading groups but I think the Lit Circles would be really great for building deep understanding and also teaching students how to have really good conversations with each other. You could probably incorporate the competencies really well into this type of teaching strategy.

    1. I saw lit circles ran this way with a group of grade 7 students. I am working with grade 3s and 4s this year, so I may change a few things for the younger age group. I would probably pick the books that each group is reading about because they will most likely not be able to pick just the right books for their reading level. They may just try to be in a group that has their friends in it and not end up being successful. For the most part, I would keep a lot of it the same. I think you may have to facilitate the lit circle meetings a bit more but that’s okay. When it comes to assessment I am not sure how the peer assessment would go with the younger grade, but I think they would be able to self-assess. Yes, I agree that you could incorporate the competencies really well into this type of teaching.

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