Starting next week, each of my 25 students will become a member of a literature circle group, or mini book club, that meets once a week. The groupings are based on my understanding of each child as a reader and as a social being in this class. Each group met last week to chat about what they've been reading independently and what they might like to read with their group. They gave me their ideas and I spent hours last weekend on the Columbus Metropolitan Library website and at the Northwest Branch gathering books.
A group of three boys wants to read graphic novels. I picked Akiko by Mark Crilley (graphic novel version) for them. I think they can read a book a week and there are five books, so that gives me some time to find what will come next. I'm thinking Hikaru No Go by Yumi Hotta, but CML doesn't own it, and I haven't read it all the way through. I may have to buy three copies and the game Go.
A mixed gender group of four included both graphic novels and pets on their wish list. I am ordering multiple copies of Travels of Thelonious by Susan Schade from the library, and I will join this group in reading this book for the first time. It is a graphic novel hybrid (part graphic novel, part novel novel) and it has animals for characters. Thelonious is a chipmunk (apologies, Thelonious for originally saying you were a mouse). I wonder if we will make connections to Despereaux as we read?
A big group of six asked to read mysteries. A-Z Mysteries are perfect for them, but I'm not sure who's read which titles. I was glad to find that Ron Roy is continuing past the 26 books in the series with A-Z Mysteries Detective Camp. Northwest Branch had six copies of this title! Perfect!
A group of four capable readers wanted to read Mary Pope Osborne books, but not necessarily her Magic Tree House books. I have copies of Revolutionary War on Wednesday and the accompanying nonfiction research guide, and copies of Osborne's Tall Tales from which they can choose.
The last group is the literature circle that's been meeting weekly all through 4th grade and continuing this year in 5th grade. At the beginning of the year, I had them go back to my shelves of multiple copy sets of novels and pick the ONE they wanted to be sure the group read in 5th grade. We laid them out, counted them up, and found that we have a book a month for the rest of the year! This is exactly the process my adult book club uses to set our yearly reading agenda. Here's what they chose: Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander, The Last Treasure by Janet Anderson, Wringer by Jerry Spinelli (that's what we're reading now), Riding Freedom by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles, and The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. (That last one is my pick. A farewell present to some extraordinary 5th graders who will hopefully continue to be extraordinary no matter what middle school brings in the way of pressures to be ordinary.)
Again, I say, "Thank goodness for the public library!" I couldn't have provided all of these resources without the ability to BORROW most of them!