How to run a reading circle

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Adapted from article by Angie Simms- NATECLA News, Autumn 2010 and inspired by Oxford Bookworms. With thanks to Jenny Roden.

Looking to experiment with your reading group?

The reading circle is an exciting new approach which could enhance your reading group meetings. Originally designed for English language learners, the model can be applied to any reading group who wants to get creative with their approach.

The model breaks down the group into five specific roles, which have been designed to replicate the whole reading process, exploring different elements of the book and helping to stimulate discussion.

If there are more than five people in your group, it’s not a problem – these roles can easily be shared between people or passed on after every chapter. The roles should be given out ahead of reading the book and members are encouraged to take on a different role each week, in order to experience the book from a variety of perspectives.

During the meeting, each member shares their ideas with the group to open up wider and more detailed discussion.

The roles are as follows:

“The Leader” – facilitates the discussion, preparing some general questions and ensuring that everyone is involved and engaged.

“The Summariser” – gives an outline of the plot, highlighting the key moments in the book. More confident readers can touch upon its strengths and weaknesses.

“The Word Master” – selects vocabulary that may be new, unusual, or used in an interesting way.

“The Passage Person” – selects and presents a passage from that they feel is well written, challenging, or of particular interest to the development of the plot, character, or theme.

“The Connector” – draws upon all of the above and makes links between the story and wider world. This can be absolutely anything; books, films, newspaper articles, a photograph, a memory, or even a personal experience, it’s up to you. All it should do is highlight any similarities or differences and explain how it has brought about any changes in your understanding and perception of the book.

What are you waiting for? Try out this model now.

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Already tried this model? Let us know how it worked for you. Get in touch via our Twitter and Facebook. Or email us at readinggroups@readingagency.org.uk

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