Reading, Sharing and Responding to Literature
Exploring Reading Strategies Through Literature Circles

We will begin by introducing how Literature Circles can help to make reading more meaningful for students and deepen the understanding and comprehension of books and stories.

Structure of Lit Circles

Read Aloud Modeling
Marty will the introduce the process through a read aloud with the whole group, using the following steps: listening, reading, developing questions, looking at vocabulary and character representation, followed by a written response.

Group Modeling Activity

Reading and Developing Questions:
  • We use two types of reading materials for this modeled activity: Picture books listed below and two reading from the 5th grader Prentice Hall Reader about Fables (The Tiger Who Would Be King by James Thurber and The Lion and the Bulls, by Aesop)
    Picture books to select from include: Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki, Passage to Freedom, the Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki, Heroes by Ken Mochizuki, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds, The Sammy Lee Story by Paula Yoo, and Coolies by Yin.
  • Breaking down into small groups, you will have 15 minutes to read and using post-it notes develop questions for group discussion.
  • As a group discuss these books using the process modeled.
Vocabulary and Character Representation
  • Using post-its make notes about vocabulary you are not familiar with or how words are used in phrases, etc.
  • Using post-its make notes and questions about character attributes, and how are they are represented in the story.
Written Response
  • Write an open ended response to what you read. 
(For more ways to explore writing responses see tab called Responding Through Writing and Sharing)

Roles of Students
By assigning roles to students - every group member has a task. This is designed to support collaborative learning where all students have a role so that they can be interactive and feel a responsibility toward the learning that will happen within their lit circle groups.

We will look at student role sheets and how to use them. These are great ways to get your students jumpstarted into the structure of Lit Circles. But these sheets are set up to be transitional, temporary devices. The goal of all role sheets is to make them obsolete.

Refer to the handout in workshop packet excerpted from Harvey Daniels book, Literuature Circles: Voice and Choice in the Student-Centered Classroom. There are many more resources on the web - here are a few:

Meeting the Standards Through Lit Circle Activities

Any of the follow California State Content Grade Level Standards for Language Arts could be met through using Literature Circles strategies.

California Content Standards
English and Language Arts
Grade Six
ELA.6.3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
ELA.6.3.2. Analyze the effect of the qualities of the character (e.g., courage or cowardice, ambition or laziness) on the plot and the resolution of the conflict.
ELA.6.3.3. Analyze the influence of setting on the problem and its resolution.
ELA.6.3.4. Define how tone or meaning is conveyed in poetry through word choice, figurative language, sentence structure, line length, punctuation, rhythm, repetition, and rhyme.
ELA.6.3.5. Identify the speaker and recognize the difference between first-and third-person narration (e.g., autobiography compared with biography).
ELA.6.3.6. Identify and analyze features of themes conveyed through characters, actions, and images.
ELA.6.3.7. Explain the effects of common literary devices (e.g., symbolism, imagery, metaphor) in a variety of fictional and nonfictional texts.
Literary Criticism
ELA.6.3.8. Critique the credibility of characterization and the degree to which a plot is contrived or realistic (e.g., compare use of fact and fantasy in historical fiction).
Grade Seven
ELA.7.3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
ELA.7.3.2. Identify events that advance the plot and determine how each event explains past or present action(s) or foreshadows future action(s).
ELA.7.3.3. Analyze characterization as delineated through a character's thoughts, words, speech patterns, and actions; the narrator's description; and the thoughts, words, and actions of other characters.
ELA.7.3.4. Identify and analyze recurring themes across works (e.g., the value of bravery, loyalty, and friendship; the effects of loneliness).
ELA.7.3.5. Contrast points of view (e.g., first and third person, limited and omniscient, subjective and objective) in narrative text and explain how they affect the overall theme of the work.
Literary Criticism
ELA.7.3.6. Analyze a range of responses to a literary work and determine the extent to which the literary elements in the work shaped those responses.
Grade Eight
ELA.8.3.0 Literary Response and Analysis
Narrative Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Text
ELA.8.3.2. Evaluate the structural elements of the plot (e.g., subplots, parallel episodes, climax), the plot's development, and the way in which conflicts are (or are not) addressed and resolved.
ELA.8.3.3. Compare and contrast motivations and reactions of literary characters from different historical eras confronting similar situations or conflicts.
ELA.8.3.4. Analyze the relevance of the setting (e.g., place, time, customs) to the mood, tone, and meaning of the text.
ELA.8.3.5. Identify and analyze recurring themes (e.g., good versus evil) across traditional and contemporary works.
ELA.8.3.6. Identify significant literary devices (e.g., metaphor, symbolism, dialect, irony) that define a writer's style and use those elements to interpret the work.
Literary Criticism
ELA.8.3.7. Analyze a work of literature, showing how it reflects the heritage, traditions, attitudes, and beliefs of its author. (Biographical approach)