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Effective Book Clubs in the Middle School ELA Classroom

 Book clubs used to scare the bejeezus out of me.  Even way back when I was in college, book clubs were widely taught as one of the most effective ways to teach reading, but you had to make sure you did “this”, and don’t forget about “that”, and if you truly want to be effective, you must show up in full costume with a choreographed tap dance with the autograph of a celebrity to share.  I mean, perhaps that’s a bit of an over exaggeration, but when you are just getting started all the information and strategies to implement can seem just as overwhelming. 

So, after 15 years of running middle school book clubs and making all the mistakes, here are my top 6 tips to cut out all of the noise to deliver effective book clubs in your middle school ELA classroom.

Don’t begin a book club until later on in the school year.

Book clubs take structure, routine, and trust from the teacher.  All of these things are built over time...

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5 Ways to Promote Independent Reading in Middle School

reading motivation Sep 02, 2021

5 Ways to Promote Independent Reading that will Forster a Love for Reading in Middle School

I remember getting in so much trouble as a middle school student for lying to my mom about not reading the book I was assigned for class.  I mean, I felt really bad about lying, but SHEESH, that book was boring!  I don’t remember a single lesson learned from the book...except not to lie to my momma.  The funny thing is, I ended up having that book passed down to me from a mentor for my personal library when I became a teacher, and do you know what?  In 15 years of teaching, not one single student checked out that book.  Not one.  What does that teach me when I look back on that fateful lie?  It wasn’t high-interest and wasn’t appealing to me, so no wonder I avoided it at all costs!

As a teacher though, I get it.  My middle school LA teacher might have had limited resources and this was the only set of books that were an option. ...

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You guys, I taught my daughter how to lie.  I’m not proud of it, but I did.  Not intentionally, Judgey McJudgerson!  If it weren’t for those DANG reading logs, we would have gone our whole lives without one lie. (Ok, we lied about practicing the blasted violin too, but seriously, THAT’S ALL!)  The lesson on lying came every Monday morning when I was presented with the reading log that needed my signature, and I really had no idea how much my daughter had read at home, but we sure told Mrs. Carter that she got in her 120 minutes a week! (Don’t hate me, Mrs. Carter.)

One night on the patio with some girlfriends, I learned this was a very common practice.  As a mom, I was like, “Yeah!  Bad moms unite!!”  As a Language Arts teacher, I was like, “Wait, what!?”  It hit me that reading logs were, well, useless (and a nuisance for parents)!!  I had struggled with this as a teacher for much of the...

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