Better Book Clubs

Deepening Comprehension and Elevating Conversation

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Better Book Clubs will help you launch and maintain effective book club experiences by highlighting assessment and instructional practices that support the dual goals of stronger comprehension (thinking) and better conversations (talk). Writing with the practical teacher in mind, author Sara Kugler offers plenty of inspiration and ideas to get you started—whether you’re new to book clubs, you’re developing your confidence around them, or you’re ready to refine your responsiveness within this familiar practice.

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In this comprehensive guide, literacy coach and staff developer Sara Kugler shows you how to combine the power of book clubs with assessment-driven instruction to support your students as they talk and think about texts together. Using authentic book club conversations as an assessment of academic talk and text understanding, Kugler raises the bar on typical professional discussions about book clubs, moving beyond teacher-directed interactions and surface-level conversations to include: 

  • Structures, teaching methods, and routines that support authenticity and independence in book clubs
  • Suggestions for starting, scaffolding, and sustaining effective, student-centered book clubs
  • Tips for listening in on clubs as a way to assess academic talk and text understanding
  • Methods for moving from observation into instruction that improves conversation and comprehension
  • Touchstone anchor charts and sample lessons for launching and maintaining strong clubs at a variety of independence levels

With a dual focus on stronger comprehension and improved conversations,Better Book Clubs will help you establish effective book clubs that will engage your readers, enhance your learning communities, and become an indispensable component of your literacy classroom.

About the Author(s)

Sara Kugler is a literacy coach and consultant based in Northern Virginia. Previously a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project as well as a classroom teacher in Brooklyn, New York, Sara currently designs elementary literacy curriculum and professional learning opportunities for Woodburn Elementary School in the Fairfax County Public Schools system.


Table of Contents


Introduction: The Purpose and Power of Book Clubs               

                Authentic Book Club Experiences

                The Benefits of Book Clubs

                How This Book Works

Chapter 1: Grounding Book Clubs in the Predictability of Workshop

                Traditional Workshop Versus Workshop with Book Clubs

                Preparing Students for Book Clubs Within the Reading Workshop

Chapter 2: Scaffolding Toward Book Club Conversations

                Interactive Read-Aloud

                Whole-Class Conversation

                Read-Aloud Book Clubs

Chapter 3: Forming Groups and Launching Book Clubs

                Forming Flexible Groups

                Scheduling Book Clubs

                Club Identity

Chapter 4: Utilizing Talk as an Assessment

                Observing and Listening as Data Collection

                Analyzing the Assessment

                Redefining "Assessment"

Chapter 5: Teaching for Comprehension and Conversation


                Crafting a Worthy Goal

                From Planning to Teaching

Chapter 6: Growth over Time

                Looking for Shifts over Time

                Following Rules Versus Making Decisions

Appendix A: Noticed/Next Steps Matrix

Appendix B: Book Club Planning Document

Appendix C: Touchstone Anchor Charts and Sample Lessons


                Professional Bibliography

                Children’s Literature Bibliography


Product Details

Grades: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Media: 152 pp/paper
Published: 10/2022
Item No: 1392
ISBN: 978-1-62531-392-8
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers
Hashtag: #BetterBookClubs