How to Host a Book Club: A Step-by-Step Guide for Upper Elementary Teachers

When it comes to fostering a love for reading, book clubs for kids in upper elementary grades are a fantastic tool! Clubs allow you to introduce your students to a variety of books, encourage teamwork, and engage reluctant readers.

Sometimes, though, setting up book clubs can be tricky and time consuming. There are MANY elements to consider.... book choices, grouping of students, schedules, etc.

But I can help! If you've ever felt the pressure of planning, this resource is for you. Download my FREE PDF resource 'Plan Your Next Book Club in 30 minutes or Less.' Then follow the steps below for book club ideas!

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Hosting Book Clubs for Kids (for Beginners!)

Step 1: Choosing the Right Book Club Books

Selecting the right books is the foundation of a successful book club:

  1. Consider Your Audience: Understand your students' interests, reading levels, and preferences. Choose books that will engage and challenge them. I like to use this student reading interest form to get to know my students. 
  2. Variety is Key: Diversify your book selections to cater to different tastes and genres, from fiction and non-fiction to classics and contemporary titles.
  3. Reading Levels: Ensure that the books align with your students' reading abilities while offering opportunities for growth. We use the planning pages in our 'Book Club Planning Guide' for this!

Step 2: Hosting the Book Club

Now that you have your books, it's time to set up your book club:

  1. Select Meeting Times: Decide when and how often your book club will meet. Consistency is essential for keeping students engaged.
  2. Create a Reading Schedule: Break the book into manageable sections for each meeting. This prevents last-minute rushes and encourages pacing. We use the planning pages in our 'Book Club Planning Guide' for this!
  3. Communicate Expectations: Clearly outline your expectations for participation, behavior, and discussion. Make sure students understand their roles.

Step 3: Facilitating Discussions

Engaging discussions are at the heart of any book club. Here's how to facilitate meaningful conversations:

  1. Open-Ended Questions: Encourage critical thinking by asking open-ended questions that require more than a simple yes or no answer.
  2. Group discussions + Journaling: All students process in different ways, so I like to keep options open! I encourage students to journal their discussion answers before sharing them with the group. This way, several learning styles have what they need to succeed. You can preview some of my journaling systems here!

Step 4: Include Interactive Activities

Enhance the book club experience with interactive activities:
  1. Book Tasting: Introduce your book club options with a fun, interactive book tasting! This excites students AND gives you valuable information with which to create your groups. There are MANY themes you can use with your book tasting. But my personal favorite is this French bakery themed bundle!
  2. Creative End of Novel Projects: Assign creative projects like dioramas, book-inspired art, or even short stories to deepen their connection with the book. My favorite way to do this is with a choice board. Students choose a medium that inspires them and shows their creativity. 

Step 5: Celebrate!

After finishing a book, it's time to celebrate and reflect:

  1. Themed Snacks: Create snacks or treats related to the book's setting or themes for a fun, immersive experience.
  2. Book-to-Movie Night: Host a book-to-movie night where students can compare the book with its film adaptation. Bonus: Keep those standards aligned with these movie guides! Students can continue practicing ELA skills and won't even notice the "work."

Creating Lifelong Readers

Hosting a book club in your upper elementary classroom is well worth the work (especially if you cut your work in half with my book club planner!).

By carefully selecting books, organizing your club, facilitating discussions, and incorporating creative activities, you'll create an environment where young readers thrive. Start your book club planning today and watch your students become lifelong readers!


Reading to your students is so so important and it’s FUN! I hope you can use some of these suggestions soon. If you need more  suggestions for WHAT to read, check out my lists for thirdfourth, and fifth grade here!

I would also love to hear your tips for read aloud time! Please connect with me here in the comments or on instagram at @fifthintheforest

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Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn form qualifying purchases. 

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