School Counseling Book Clubs In Elementary School
School counseling book clubs in elementary school are some of my favorite twists on a classic small group. I love sharing a good book, watching students make connections to the characters, seeing first hand my students reading and comprehension levels and helping them improve their reading. Books clubs provide wonderful opportunities for you to combine social/emotional, academic, and career standards.
Here are a few tips for a success book club:
- Consider using picture books instead of chapter books.
Are you like me- do you go crazy on Amazon after an afternoon on Instagram. I have a ton of picture books I love that are collecting dust on my book shelf thanks to my fellow counselors. Instead of reading a chapter book- sometimes I enjoy reading a series of books that have the same topic, are written by the same author, or focus on our group goal that week.
Think about a time.
Chapters books are great, but consider asking how long will it take to finish the book. When I use chapter books I have to plan for several months due to the length of the book, sessions, and time it takes us to reflect and connect. I also account for a few minutes at the start of our club to review what we read last time. Consider creating a group routine, like this one from The Responsive Counselor, to help you manage your time if you are using longer chapter books.
During April and May I use American Girl’s Guide To Starting Middle School for a much shorter book club. I let the students pick a chapter at the start (or end) of each session they want to read and discuss. Allowing them to focus on what is personally meaningful means I can conduct a much shorter small group than if we read the entire book.
Consider when is the best time to meet.
I do a lot of lunch bunch groups, which we all know is a struggle. Eating, reading, following along, discussing, wait are you eating? It’s a lot to juggle. Since our book clubs have a reading/academic focus I’ve been able to get buy in from teachers to use other times of the day. For example, during our intervention time is a great time to pull students who don’t receive a specific Tiered service or are in need of reading interventions.
If you are struggling for time, consider a less formal book club with more of a class feel. In years past I have invited my 4th and 5th grade girls to a girls only book club. We either met in my room or I borrowed a teachers classroom during lunch and read An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong. I read aloud from my copy as they ate and we found times to “turn and talk” to make connections and share opinions. At the end of the book we celebrated by watching the movie.
Ask your librarian about class book sets.
In several schools I have discovered a “book room” filled with class sets of books collecting dust. So often the titles are classics and applicable to my students. Often the teachers don’t have time to use the books or they have also moved on to a newer title, but the books are still relevant and ready to be used. Ask your librarian what happens to old class sets at the end of the year and see if you can’t check out or become the owner of a few.
Looking for a good book here are some of my favorites by topic:
The Hate List by Jennifer Brown (for high school)
The Hundred Dresses by Elenanor Estes
An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong by Mary Casanova
Bullies Are A Pain In The Brain by Trevor Romain
Cliques, Phonies, and Other Baloney by Trevor Romain
Restart by Gordon Korman
There’s A Boy In The Girls Bathroom by Louis Sachar
A Smart Girl’s Guide: Drama, Rumors & Secrets by Nancy Holyoke
A Smart Girl’s Guide: Friendship Trouble by Patti Kelley Criswell
Middle School Transition
American Girl’s Guide To Starting Middle School by Julie Williams Montalbano
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold (Autism)
Focused by Alyson Gerber (also works for middle school- ADHD)
Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks (new students, ESL, SPED)
Fish In a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Learning disabilities- dyslexia)
How To Do Homework Without Throwing Up by Trevor Romain
The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman
Brave by Svetlana Chmakova (for middle and high- you can use this book for SOOO much and it’s a graphic novel)
Stress Can Really Get On Your Nerves by Trevor Romain
What On Earth To Do When Someone Dies by Trevor Romain
Bridge To Terabitha by Katherine Paterson
Nothing But The Truth by Avi (for high school- talk about patriotism, citizenship, etc.)
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (for middle and high to address homelessness)