What Are Literature Circles?
In literature circles, small groups of students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. The discussion is guided by students' response to what they have read. You may hear talk about events and characters in the book, the author's craft, or personal experiences related to the story. Literature circles provide a way for students to engage in critical thinking and reflection as they read, discuss, and respond to books. Collaboration is at the heart of this approach. Students reshape and add onto their understanding as they construct meaning with other readers. Finally, literature circles guide students to deeper understanding of what they read through structured discussion and extended written and artistic response.
Perhaps the easiest way to understand what literature circles are is to examine what they are not.
|Reader response centered||Teacher and text centered|
|Part of a balanced literacy program||The entire reading curriculum|
|Groups formed by book choice||Teacher-assigned groups formed solely by ability|
|Structured for student independence, responsibility, and ownership||Unstructured, uncontrolled "talk time" without accountability|
|Guided primarily by student insights and questions||Guided primarily by teacher- or curriculum-based questions|
|Intended as a context in which to applyreading and writing skills||Intended as a place to do skills work|
|Flexible and fluid; never look the same twice||Tied to a prescriptive "recipe"|