Literature Circles



Manya times, several teachers who thrive in their career is due toorganization and structure in classroom, something that I too adopt.However, students often like routine and for a teacher it isessential to know what every student is doing every other day. Theprogress of the students is significant. Having such pre-requisitesmight make a teacher or a guide have an edge when it comes toliterature circles (Daniels, 2002). This is the case with me. I havea Masters in English Education and to some extent it impacted on mychoice of the reading materials and the levels to deal with.

Themeand the Choice

Thetheme under study concerns &quotChildren of the Holocaust&quot.Most of the time, this is an area that has been ignored and very fewauthors have dared to write on it. Given that my students areprivileged to get education they wanted to know more concerning thetopic and the restrictions that children faced in bid to geteducation. This theme would help shed light on the injustices andcruelties that face the education sector. A case in point is thechildren of the Jew and Gypsy being restricted from going to schoolwhile at the same time teach children concerning the inferiority.Delving into this topic is necessary for the students in grade 4-7 asit helps them understand the real issues as they were rather thanhearsay.

Descriptionsof the Books


Writtenby Carol Matas and best meant for Grade 6, this book talks ofmemories of both happiness and safety that apparently fades away themoment Daniel and his family are forced out of their home. They areto get from their comfort in Frankfurt and go to Lodz ghetto inPoland. Daniel in the process is left questioning himself and hispersonality. Using a smuggled camera to record Nazi’s atrocities,Daniel gets exposed to extreme levels of prejudice.

Jacob’sRescue: A Holocaust Story

Writtenby Malka Drucker, the book interests any student between grades 4 to7 with the main target being grade 5 students. The book details thegood and comfortable life that Jacob Gutgeld lived with his family inWarsaw, Poland. More details are given of how Jacob played hide andseek with his friends. Things would then change the day there wasinvasion by Nazi soldiers in 1939 and this would then make it unsafefor the Jewish.


Authoredby Jerry Spinelli, the book is meant for grade 5 students as thetarget audience though harboring interests for students from grade 5to 9. Milkweed talks of a boy that lived in streets of Warsaw andwould steal food enough for him and other orphans. The belief of theboy is anchored on three things and these include bread, mothers, andangels. The boy yearns to be a Nazi until the day Jews from ghettoare emptied by trains and then he realizes that it is indeed safe tobe undercover and better be a nobody.

Numberthe Stars

Writtenby Lois Lowry, “Number the Stars” enumerates about a ten-year oldAnnemarie and a best friend Ellen who always had thoughts about lifeprior to the war. It captures the years of 1943, their school life,food shortages and marching of the Nazi soldiers into the town. Uponrelocation of the Jews, Ellen moves with the family of Annemarie andis covered as one of them even though her life is in danger.

TheDevil’s Arithmetic

Authoredby Jane Yolen, the book is specifically meant for grade 5 students.The story is told of Hannah who is tired to hear about Nazis duringHolocaust. However, on opening the door for Elijah at the PassoverSeder, Hannah is captured and then placed in a death camp. While atthe camp, Rivka befriends her and teaches her the best ways to fightdehumanization of the camp and maintain her identity in the end.

Introductionof Books

Foreach of the book that I deal with in class, I will give a book talk.The book talk will entail for each of the books, the executivesummary, or some sort of insight in regards to the book.Additionally, I will shed light on the content of the book and itsrelation to the topic of study or area under review. More concerningthe author and other related books to the one under review will alsobe an area under consideration.

Processof Students’ Decision on a Book

Afterintroducing the books and taking part in the book talk, I proceed togive every student an index card. The students then write their namesat the top. Below the card, the students then write down theirchoices of books among the five in order of preference. Through this,it is easy to know the books that are most liked by the students.Further, through the choice process, I can also group the studentsbasing on their reading fluency and compatibility.

WrappingUp Literature Circle after Reading of Books

Inwrapping the literature circle, one issue at hand is accountability(Daniels, 2002). For every student or group of student there isdefinite agenda that was put in place at the start of the class. Theagenda is a reminder of the tasks that have to be completed. Uponfinishing the reading, I ensure that students are involved in doingthe tasks. Upon completion of the tasks, a student or a group leadercan then sign off. Additionally, as part of the wrapping up, I amalso involved in assessing and evaluating the students. I ensure thatstudents are able to carry out self-assessment where they monitor andrecord their own level of response and engage with their books. Thismust be done through guidance of a checklist that is in place(Daniels, 2002). Moreover, peer assessment will also be handy as thestudents are able to assess their group members and then give backtheir feedback.


Asstudents are involved in the literature circles, I play a number ofroles. First, I teach the students different roles like them knowingthe vocabulary wizards, identifying connectors and even the words ofwisdom. Additionally, at one point I may be leader at another pointan illustrator and even be summarizer as I have made the roles to beon rotational basis. I also ensure that all students participate inthe literature circle and they are able to choose a number ofvocabulary words, different quotes and that they actively read. As ateacher, I will carrying out a continuous observation as it iscritical in assessing the progress of the students even when theycarry on with the literature circles.


Daniels,H. (2002).&nbspLiteraturecircles: Voice and choice in book clubs and reading groups.Stenhouse Publishers.