Literature Circles Word Document – This document is somewhat different than the text on this page.

Below, you will find a list of suggestions, links, and tools to help you and your group work as a tight literature discussion group. I do not run literature circles in the traditional manner, so some of the things you read below may not be in line with other resources you may find elsewhere.

FOR THE GROUP: Before you begin each round you should all be thinking:

What are some things in this selection that I could key on to add to a cool conversation with my group?

FOR THE INDIVIDUAL: Before you begin each round you should be thinking:

What culminating tasks am I responsible to complete AND/OR have I picked? How can I get the group to discuss things that will help me focus on my task?

Get help and resources for your various jobs through the links you find below.

The Literature Circle   CYCLES  in my room run as follows:

  1. Agree on a range of pages to read for the round, and record the decision in your Reader’s Notebook/Journal.
  2. Review your Role for the Round before you begin reading.
  3. Read the pages and do your job for the range of pages for the round. If you finish earlier than group members you must work silently: finish your job more thoroughly, read to review, work on individual extension activities.
    1. Summarizer: Begins the DISCUSSION session with a summary of the story thus far (cumulative).
    2. Discussion Leader: Present questions to guide the DISCUSSION on the portion of the reading.
    3. During the DISCUSSION each individual should take notes about the things people say, agreements reached on topics, disagreements stated, ideas for further discussion, etc.
    4. Summarizer: Close the discussion by summing up the things that were discussed: who said what, what ideas were touched on; any big ideas, themes, issues, etc.
  4. EVERY GROUP MEMBER writes a brief prediction for what will come next in the book.
  5. Agree on a range of pages to read for the next round, and record the decision in your Reader’s Notebook/Journal.
  6. Jobs rotate to the left.
  7. REPEAT      THE    CYCLE      ETC.      ETC.


Discussion Leader – This job is about getting the discussion going, keeping it going, restarting it if it slows down, and closing it. This job is REALLY important. Make sure that each group member has a chance to speak. As you read, think about each of the jobs being done. Take note of any passages. For this job you must provide, as a minimum, 1 discussion question for each job being done in the group. End each discussion with time to write predictions of what will come in the next section of the book. Use a good variety of levels for the questions you write.

A good rule to follow is to write:

  • One Level 1 Questions – Knowledge is key.
  • One Level 2 Questions – Comprehension is essential.
  • Three Level 3 Questions – Application is useful.
  • Three Level 4 Questions – Analysis is thorough.
  • Four Level 5 Questions – Synthesis is reflective.
  • Two Level 6 Questions – Evaluation is constructive.

During the discussion: Start with an open-ended or general question. Continue by calling on group members for other questions specifically written for their jobs. If the discussion drifts too far from the original topic of the question, bring it back by asking a new question.

Connection Maker – The key word here is allusions. For this job, you must provide personal connections from the day’s reading to something in real life: other text(s), oneself, the community, world issue(s). Making a connection may mean any number of things.

To do this job you could:

  • Writing about a personal experience similar to one a character has;
  • Clipping and commenting on a current event article that explains or is similar to an event in the book;
  • Comparing/contrasting the book with another you’ve read by the same author, another author, or on another topic;
  • Jott down notes about a similar story you have heard;
  • Make note of an event the reading reminds you of.

During the discussion: Share your ideas and sources with the group. Explain the importance of the connection and how it helps you understand the reading, keep your personal interest in the book, and widen your experiences in general.

Travel Tracker/Globe Trotter – Your job is to provide information about the setting of the story. If the plot involves a journey, or if the setting is unfamiliar or if it changes, your job is to help the group envision the setting elements involved that help the reader see the action where it is taking place by referring to visual resources.

To do your job, you will need maps, globes, magazines with pictures, and the like. As you read, note the places and things mentioned and their physical characteristics. Then go one step further. Try to be prepared to explain and show (with maps, gloges, magazine clippings, etc.) the symbolic nature of setting: Why does the author use this setting? What is this setting symbolic of? How does the setting set the mood?

Some things for you to consider are:

  • Topography – Is the setting mountainous? Flat Rocky? Underwater? Etc.
  • Geography – Is this a real or an imaginary place? What country is it in? Etc.
  • Weather Conditions – Is it always raining? Is there a drought? Are there storms?
  • Objects – vases, canes, cars, furniture
  • Places – such as buildings and rooms, a specific location in a room
  • State of the setting – Is the furniture new, old, beat up? What could this mean or symbolically represent?
  • What are some important passages that hold crisp descriptions of setting(s)? Cite (READ) them, and get reactions from people.

To do this job you could:

  • Draw a map.
  • Illustrate a scene.
  • Create a diorama
  • Show on a globe.



During the discussion: Indicate for the group the story setting using the resources you’ve gathered. For instance, trace, on a map, the route characters take. Show the group anything you have to help them get a real feeling for the time(s) the story takes place in, the place(s) the story takes place in, and the culture(s) (groups of people) the story revolves around.

Wordsmith/Passage Pointer – For this job it is your responsibility to point out unusual, important or otherwise interesting short passages or scenes in the reading to talk about during the discussion. As you read, jot down key words or important sentences from the text, things characters say, things they do that are important or “telling” of them or their character. For everything you record you must write down the page # on which the passage appears, the full text quotation, and the reason you chose it.

Some reasons to pick a portion of the text are:

  • Is it funny?
  • Is it confusing?
  • Does it contain an important plot development?
  • Does it contain important character details?
  • Does it contain a surprising twist?
  • Does the language create a clear picture in your mind?
  • Are there any other good reasons you can think of that are not listed below?
  • Does it reflect literary devices you are studying?

During the discussion: Shed light on events with your important passages. Offer them to the group and ask them why they think the passage is important.

Investigator/Researcher – Your job is to take brief notes on things you can and will research related to the book. After each round, you should consult with your groupmates to find out if there is anything they need you to research. If the list of things to look into is long, you can delegate responsibilities, or give research topics to group members. YOu must research one yourself no matter what.

To prepare for your job, you’ll need to create a small table to record:

  1. the pages on which topics are mentioned
  2. why the topics interest you
  3. note some possible sources of information

To complete your job, you will need to use reference books, the internet, history books, possibly photographs, paintings, musical recordings, speeches by or about historical figures in the book, magazine articles, interviews with people involved with your topic, etc. Be INVENTIVE!!

As you read, make a list of things you could research to verify and gather information on, such as :

  • the actual time period of the story (dates can be researched in and of themselves)
  • supposed historical events that take place in the time period of the story
  • places you could locate and gather information on
  • historical figures referred to
  • objects that are named
  • any other things that interest you

During the discussion: Tell the group about what you found out.

WordMaster/Vocabulary Highlighter – Your job is to point out words in the reading that are important to the story and/or interesting to you for some reason. Anything that makes a word stand out for you makes the word important. Perhaps the word(s) are confusing, new, familiar but used in an unfamiliar way, from another language, or made-up. After each round, you should consult with your groupmates to find out if there are any words or expressions they need you to look up. As you read, write down each important word along with the page(s) on which it appears, its dictionary definition, and why you noticed it.

Think about these things in light of that particular word:

  • How does it add to the story?
  • What is the effect of the word?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • Why did the author choose that word?

During the discussion: Explain to the group whenever you can anything important about the words. You may hear someone say something inaccurate about a word, or why it is in the text. Clear things up where you can.

Summarizer – Your job is to prepare a short summary of the selection. As you read, highlight and keep track of important events in the reading. Your job will be important especially when reading complex stories and books in which characters undergo a lot of change.

As you read, you may want to:

  • list events in order
  • draw a flow chart, multi-flow map, plot diagram showing how events are related (Cause and Effect)
  • extract the most IMPORTANT plot points to share with the group, and be prepared to explain WHY they are the IMPORTANT plot points.

During the discussion: You start it all off with your summary of everything that has happened up to this point, you assist  in keeping a discussion on topic, and you close the discussion with a list of the things that were discussed.

Illustrator – Your job is to visually represent something related to the reading. You will not be graded for artistic expression. Artistic ability is not graded. Your representation can take many different final forms including but not limited to:

  • a sketch of an important scene;
  • a caricature emphasizing a character’s important trait(s);
  • a comic strip showing the action;
  • a graphic using shapes and color to show how a character feels ;
  • a graphic using shapes and color to show how the reading made you feel;
  • a computer-aided designed piece of artwork.
  • a sculpture.
  • and more

Before you do your job, get resources you could use to better do your job, such as paints, colored pencils, crayons, markers, computer software, and/or website(s) you know of that can be used.

As you read:

  1. List the page numbers on which: descriptive character details can be found; descriptive setting details are; an interesting scene is described.
  2. If there are any events you want to show in order, list them.

During the discussion: Ultimately, CREATE your visual representation for the discussion group. Show them. Explain it. Take criticisms.

Literature Circle Ground Rules

The ground rules you see here are VERY generic. No group can function flawlessly on rules created in general for ANY group. Some of the rules apply across the board, however some will have to be modified to meet your specific group’s unique needs.


1. No reading ahead.
2. Discussions must begin within 1 minute of everyone being ready.
3. All literature circle jobs must be completed in your notebooks/journals.
4. Every group member MUST record a prediction in journals/notebooks at the end of each round.
5. At silent reading: read to catch up, do extension activities; use context clues to figure out word/phrase meanings; use the context of the story to understand character attitudes & behaviours, theme.


1. Only one person can talk at a time; everyone shares and listens to each other’s ideas, and interruptions or put-downs are strictly prohibited.
2. The discussion leader calls on group members to share.
3. It is the discussion leader’s responsibility to: keep a list of all the names/jobs being done in each round; and write a question for every job being done in each round.
4. Discussion participants can pass once when they are called upon in each round.
5. Back up your opinions with facts or support from the text.

Extension Activities

You must do 4 individual extension activities by book completion.  You must do 1 group extension activity for every 7 rounds of reading. Groups can be no larger than 6. I prefer 5. I will create the groups you work with, or I will approve of the group you want to work with.

Any extension activities you find through the links below are automatically approved for you to do. If you would like to do something that is not listed, I must approve the activity; you need to let me know the source of your activity.

Individual and Group are combined at this website.

Get forms to help you get extension activities done at this link.

Below is a list of Extension Activities that I have compiled along with what I expect as a minimum requirement for credit.

Guiding Questions for Students:  Planning Extension Projects

  • How will my project show what I have learned from the book?
  • In what ways will my project include information from the book?
  • When people view my project, what will they learn about me, the book and themselves?

Individual Extension Activities

  1. Create a poster (original work, no technology) advertising the book. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  2. Create a movie poster (original work, no technology) based in the book/story with a Trailer Script. – Full Creative Process
  3. Write one additional chapter of the book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  4. Do a timeline (in plot diagram form) for the book/story. – Graphic Organizer/Presentation Published
  5. Create a CD Cover for the audio book version of the book/story. – Full Creative Process
  6. Do a short report on the author’s life. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  7. Interview the author. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  8. Add a new character to a section of the book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  9. Create a piece of artwork (paint, draw, sculpt, dance, song, mobile, diorama, etc. etc) to interpret a part of the book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  10. Write an original skit based on a section of the book/story. – Full Creative Process
  11. Create an original dust jacket for a book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  12. Write a diary or journal entry as a character from the book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  13. Write a persuasive letter recommending the book/story to a librarian. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  14. Create an interview for a character (or more than one) from the book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  15. Write a letter to (or from) a character from the book/story. – Full Creative Process
  16. Create a tombstone for a character. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  17. Write a eulogy for a character from the book/story.. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  18. Plan a party for one (or more) character(s) from the book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  19. Create a bookmark featuring your favorite character or the character you consider to be the most significant in the book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  20. Create a commemorative stamp for a key character or scene, or focus on an important theme from the book/story. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published

Guiding Questions for Students:  Planning Extension Projects

  • How will my project show what I have learned from the book?
  • In what ways will my project include information from the book?
  • When people view my project, what will they learn about me, the book and themselves?

Group Extension Activities

  1. Performance of an important scene from the book. – Full Creative Process & Performance/Video/Presentation Published/Presentation Published
  2. Recreate the book as a children’s book. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  3. Perform a lost scene from the book. This would be like a deleted scene that could fit into the story line somewhere, but isn’t in the book itself. – Full Creative Process & Performance/Video/Presentation Published
  4. Panel Debate: Have a debate over an issue brought forward in the book. – Scripted Questions/Full Creative Process & Performance/Video/Presentation Published
  5. Do a puppet show based on a scene from the book. – Script/Full Creative Process & Stage Set/Puppets & Performance/Video/Presentation Published
  6. Do a read aloud of a section of the book (includes reading the section and having the live discussion) – Whole Circle Group & Performance/Video/Presentation Published
  7. Create a board game based on the book. – Full Creative Process/Create Game with packaging/Presentation Published
  8. Reader-on-the-street interview(s). – Live/Video/Presentation Published
  9. Do an impersonation of a character in costume with props. – Performance/Video/Presentation Published
  10. Do an interview with a character in costume with props. – Full Creative Process and Performance/Video/Presentation Published
  11. Do a performance of a news broadcast covering events from the book. This could be based on your (individual) timeline. – Script/Full Creative Process & Performance/Video/Presentation Published
  12. Write a song and/or dance based on something from the book: character, scene, event, etc. – Full Creative Process/Presentation Published
  13. ALSO, anything that can be done as an individual activity by more than one person can sometimes be brought to the next level as a group activity (approval needed).

Grading Procedures

Literature Circle Group Grades will be determined based on the following criteria.

  • Follow the ground rules (observed).
  • Discussions must start in 1 minute.
  • One person talking at any given moment.
  • Everybody should be reading/following along.
  • Cooperation is expected.
  • Listen actively – pay attention to the person talking.
  • Be prepared to be in the discussion. Do your job.
  • Support all statements with facts or details.
Becoming an Active Listener (
  1. Pay Attention. Give the speaker your undivided attention, and acknowledge the message.
  2. Show That You’re Listening. Use your own body language and gestures to convey your attention.
  3. Provide Feedback.
  4. Defer Judgment.
  5. Respond Appropriately.

Literature Circle Journals will be graded based on the following criteria.

Journals must include all literature circle related work.

  • Individual job responsibilities: list of what you need to do, actual work you get done
  • Individual extension activity related things, such as: lists of what you want to do; rough drafts of things you’re working on; ideas for the future
  • Group extension activity related things, such as: lists of names of all group members;plan for accomplishing your job/group job; lists of what you and other group members are responsible for; all of your own work
  • Must be neat, legible, and literate.

Literary Devices

You should focus your group discussions on these topics. The literary devices in boldfaced type below are specifically tested on many middle level (grades 6-8) state standardized tests. They would make very appropriate choices for things to focus on.

  • Alliteration
  • Antonym
  • Author’s Point of View
  • Author’s Purpose
  • Caesure
  • Cause/Effect
  • Characters
  • Character Development
  • Compare/Contrast
  • Conclusion
  • Devices of Persuasion (not a complete list)
    • Bandwagon
    • Testimonial
    • Plain Folks
    • How does the author use one or more of them?
    • How do characters use one or more of them on other characters?
  • Diagram
  • Dialogue
  • Draw Conclusion
  • Epithet
  • Essential Message or Moral
  • Fact
  • Flashback
  • Foreshadowing
  • Genre or Literary Form
  • Graph
  • Graphic Organizers (the use of them to understand the book)
  • Hyperbole
  • Inference
  • Irony
  • Main Idea
  • Metonymy
  • Metaphor
  • Mood
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Opinion
  • Opposing Point of View
    • Do two characters hold opposing points of view?
  • Oxymoron
  • Parody
  • Personae
  • Personification
  • PLOT – Sequence of moods, also referred to as sequence of events
    • Exposition
      • Characters
      • Setting
      • Conflict
    • Rising Action
      • Complications
    • Climax
    • Resolution/Falling Action
  • Plot Diagram
  • Repetition
  • Rhyme
  • Rhythm
  • Sarcasm
  • Satire
  • Simile
  • Symbolism
  • Synonym
  • Theme
  • Tone

References can be read and checked through the following links.

Resources gleaned with gratitude from Seattle University resources found on Seattle University’s School of Education Web Pages (accessed many times, but most recently on January 13th, 2014) devoted to Literature Circles. You can find these resources through the university’s literature circles main page.

The list of literary terms and devices provided here came from the Tequesta Trace page on FCAT Terms and Phrases and this UNC/Pembroke page (accessed January 13th, 2014.

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