Launching Book Clubs….Remotely

My love for student-led book clubs has grown tremendously over the past few years. We’ve worked so hard on getting our students to become independent readers and thinkers, and seeing it all come together in a book club, is one of the best feelings.

My district made the decision to go full remote, and since the announcement was made, I’ve had multiple teachers asking about book clubs. They’ve become such an integral part in our reader’s workshop block, and the idea of not being able to do them, was heartbreaking.

I’ve been thinking a lot about book clubs and about how we can launch them digitally in order to continue fostering a strong love of reading and independence among our students. The truth is….book clubs can still flourish and become a key part of our students’ education.

Getting students to choose books

We typically have the luxury of letting our students roam our libraries and touching every book while reading the back to see if it would be a book that would interest them. They would swap books with each other and share their favorite part. Unfortunately, we just won’t be able to do that this year. BUT, there are still many ways to have students pick their own books for a book club.

These 3rd graders listened to book talks and then got to rank which books they wanted to read. Clubs were then formed based off of their ranks. This concept still works in a digital world!
  • Start small. Create a slidedeck with a small selection of books that students can choose from. On each slide, put a cover of the book with either a book trailer or a book talk from someone who has read it. Students can look through and find which one interests them and form your groups.
  • Use Epic! as your book platform. There are hundreds of novels online, all at different levels and interests. Whatever books you choose to show students, ensure it’s on Epic! to keep things as equal as possible.
  • If you have a way to get actual books in students’ hands (materials pickup day, or delivering them to houses) pick a few and book talk them live in a zoom call and then have students rank which book they want to read. Form your groups based on interest and how many copies you have available.
Getting students engaged in the book
  • Help encourage thoughtful conversations and dialogue by using Zoom breakout rooms. Start a call with your whole class and then utilize the breakout rooms for each book club. Setting up the breakout room for them allows you to “bop in” to each group and listen to the conversations in order to provide feedback and direction if needed.
  • Encourage each group to create a Google Site that centers around the book they are reading. Google Sites allows for multiple collaborators on the same site. The group can create different pages and videos surrounding their novel and keep them housed on the site. At the end of the novel, they can publish their site for others to explore.
  • Keep a Padlet open throughout the book club for members to post and chat with each other even when they’re not meeting.
  • Utilize video platforms such as Flipgrid. Students can post videos of themselves discussing different events from the novel and the rest of their group can comment and reply with their own videos.
These 4th graders engaged in deep, rich conversations about their Jerry Spinelli novel.

There’s probably a million other ways to make book clubs work in our new remote world. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. This whole school year looks different already so why not?? Even if you have a vision in mind, but not sure how to execute it, bring your students into the conversation. Chances are, they’ll figure out a way to make it work!!


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