Bring Book Clubs into the Classroom

Vector cartoon illustration of Reading club. Open books on table with human hands top view, letters and words around. Colorful graphic concept
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Do you belong to a book club? My mother-daughter book club is nearing its fourth anniversary! We started it as a way to encourage reading in our daughters, and four years later, not only do we have voracious young readers, but we have also built a neighbourhood community.

I started to wonder if this concept could be applied to my teaching context. I teach LINC online with LINC Home Study. I had attended a few webinars online regarding extensive reading and decided to try it out.

Navigating the Library

I have 12 online students, all of whom have individual classes with me via Skype. The learners range from CLB 4-7. I decided to start with my learners who had a CLB 5 and up in reading. Many had library cards but used the library only for their kids. We did an orientation to their local library website and did some skill building exercises navigating the site to find out what tools and services were on offer. This was an eye opener. Homework tasks included the following:

  • Find three services/tools that your family could use. Give reasons why and instructions on how to access these.
  • How can you search for a book online? How can you request it? How can you cancel the request? What happens if you forget to pick it up? How can you renew a book online?

Finally, they were ready to sign out a book. This was done as a homework assignment. I directed them to the young adult section, although some were happy to select books from a Grade 4-7 level. They could choose fiction or nonfiction. I encouraged them to bring the whole family.

The students progressed at their own pace. My only requirement was that they read SOMETHING every week. Some students took notes to summarize for me every week. Others kept a vocabulary notebook. Some just read. Some needed to re-read each chapter. Everyone had their own path, but I insisted that they just keep reading, reading, reading.

A few chose books that had been made into a movie. That was exciting! Homework assignment: watch the movie. What was left out? Which was better – the movie or the book? Everyone always chose the book.

Happy Unexpected Results

  • About a month ago, I welcomed a new student, Sally, who lives in the same town as Anna. Anna is on her third book. Sally decided to read a book Anna had already read and they meet weekly to discuss it. Bonus!
  • Another student has noticed that when she reads, her young children are copying her by sitting with her with their own book.
  • A third student has discovered that she can access a free online course on QuickBooks via her local library while she is on maternity leave.

Putting It All Together

All of my students complete a Google Form book report when they are done, which goes into their portfolio. I have recently added a reflection form for them to notice their improvement in speed/comprehension/spelling/pleasure as well as think about what strategies work best for them. This could be something as basic as the genre they prefer, e-book versus paper book or vocabulary/comprehension strategies that have worked for them.

I realize that most teachers have a traditional classroom. If I had that scenario, I would definitely include a book club potluck once a term complete with fun book club activities. To learn more about extensive reading and classroom applications, you can check out the following two Tutela webinar recordings or read a previous blog post Facebook Book Clubs.

To learn more about Day and Bamford’s ten principles for promoting second-language (L2) extensive reading, check out the Tutela webinar Case Study: Day and Bamford’s Principles for Extensive Reading and Self-Determination Theory, delivered by Gonul Turkdogan.

For an overview of practical applications of extensive reading in the classroom, you can review the Tutela webinar Reading in the Real World, delivered by Bonnie Nicholas (@EALStories ) and Stacy Norrbom (@StacyNorrbom )  (**Repeat of their ATESL 2018 session).

Happy Reading!

Diane Ramanathan has been a LINC Home Study instructor with The Centre for Education and Training since Feb 2014. She is also a part-time professor for the TESL program at Algonquin College.


11 thoughts on “Bring Book Clubs into the Classroom”

  1. Hi Diane,
    Thanks for some great ideas to get started on creating a book club and sharing further resources on extensive reading. I’m wondering if you would be able to share your Google form book report?

    Another online resource for reading is, though it is for readers with high intermediate to advanced skills I would say. On it students have the option to listen as they read. It could be another possible resource to use for a book club in which all of the students are in the same class location and therefore would be competing for the same book at the library.

  2. Hi Diane!

    I love this idea!I love book clubs and understand that reading, especially reading for pleasure, can have a huge positive effect on language competency. I’ll be sure to think about your twist on the book club idea and try to bring my own interpretation into the classroom, virtual or not!


  3. This is a great idea. Not only does it encourage students to read, but it also helps them to feel a part of something and to communicate with one another.

    And thanks for the complementary resources. Will definitely delve into this.

    Jennifer Hutchison

  4. Hi Diane,

    My level 3/4 ESL OCDSB class 2018/19 all got library cards and we had a librarian come in and explain the services. The Ottawa Public Library has a community outreach program. It was definitely easier than taking 30 students to the library by bus.

    As an assignment over the March break my students had to visit the library/bookmobile on their own and pick a book. Then, they wrote book reports in a template form. One form was for biographies and the other was for general topics. Many students picked a children’s book that they could then read aloud to their child/children.

    Over the year we read a few “easy biographical books” by Terry Barber – Grass Roots Press. These were all Canadian content about famous Canadians such as: Emily Carr (artist), Jean Vanier (humanitarian), and Chief Poundmaker (Plains Cree peacemaker). My students loved reading about “real” Canadians. It was great background information for their Citizenship tests too.

    Any reading list suggestions (for all CLB levels) would be greatly appreciated.


    Madelaine Palko

    1. Hi Madelaine,

      Sounds like you are really developing a love of reading in English in your learners! As my learners are online and all different levels, I ask them to choose their own books. I usually direct them to the YA (Young Adult) section of the library. You may want to check out the Tutela webinar “Reading for the Real World” mentioned in my original post. I believe they discussed book titles for various levels.


  5. This is an excellent idea, Diane! You surely promoting the Self-Determination Theory of Motivation _ Autonomy (freedom of choice), Competence (Self-belief in one’s ability to perform well) and Relatedness (A sense of shared experience). So, your Ss are intrinsically motivated to do the ER.

    Thank you!

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