Literature Circles Resource Page

The purpose of this page is to provide a dynamic resource about using a Literature Circle instructional approach in an English classroom. Wikipedia has a pretty good Literature Circles explanation page here:
We could also include information about possible calendars to follow, books to read, other resources, extension ideas or webquests or something. It really could be the kind of thing that could expand. Any and all ideas are welcome.


One of the most difficult moments in a teacher's life is when he/she gives up a significant piece of control of content and learning to the students. The moment when the teacher ceases being the center of attention or the "sage on the stage," is a significant moment in all classrooms. Using a Literature Circle approach, both in planning and instruction, can help facilitate that transition from teacher-based to student-based learning. Just because students assume some control of their learning does not mean the teacher ceases to be important. Instead, the teacher's role is still crucial, but its significance comes at a different time in the instructional cycle. Planning becomes more important than instruction. The choice of texts or selection of skills-based mini lessons. Because of this we'd all like careful reading for further deep understanding of the cultural inference.

With a Literature Circle approach, a bulk of the planning and instruction will focus on providing students the skills necessary to read a complex novel, to discuss it with their peers, and present their learning in an intelligent manner. The goal of reading A Separate Peace, for example, is not to simply write an essay at the end. Instead, the text is used as a springboard for student thinking, discussion, and analysis. An assessment of student learning must then be done while he or she is reading the novel or taking part in the discussion. The challenge is bringing students along to participate effectively in small group, teacherless, discussions. Students need to be taught these skills.

These skills could include thinking skills, harvesting skills, discussion skills, and analysis skills.

Assorted follow-up activities and assignments to extend the discussions.

(one idea for a short essay to be completed before reading the entire novel)

An example of an essay assignment to be completed after reading a novel

Outside Resources

Probably the best resource is Mini Lessons for Literature Circles by Harvey Daniels and Nancy Steineke (Heinemann: 2004). In this practical book are numerous mini lesson ideas to fire up your classroom instruction. They have just come out with a fabulous book that has altered my beliefs about Lit Circles. You must buy it. They also have a companion web site that's worth a look. Seeing that Daniels is the Lit Circles guru, check out his book
Literature Circles: Voice and Choice in the Student Centered Classroom (Stenhouse: 1994). It's more general than the mini-lessons book.

Here is a site with a nice description, including a sample lesson sequence and numerous different kinds of roles.

Another great text, with numerous ideas for reading-centered mini-lessons is Kelly Gallagher's book Deeper Reading: Comprehending Challenging Texts, 4-12 (Stenhouse: 2004). There are some wonderful ideas for lessons and class activities that will spur thinking and discussion. Most can easily be incorporated into the Lit Circles model.

Lit Circle links Several general resources, including background research

Writing in the Round Provides an good overview and several resources for setting up Literature Circle in the classroom, including handouts and discussion roles.

Literature Circles Another practical site with a Lit Circle unit and some different, more focused types of roles.

A teacher in Michigan has put together a collection of role sheets and other materials to accompany an extensive discussion of reading and grammar theory. Worth checking out.

Tools for Teaching by Jim Burke (Heinemann: 2002) also has many reproducible graphic organizers, note-taking sheets and Lit Circle role sheets. Burke has a companion link to go with the book and numerous other valuable materials.