Posted:18 October 2017
Author: Emily Robinson Leclair, Community Learning Network
Found in: Program Planning
Earlier this year, Kelsey Lievers from Medicine Hat College’s ABLE program posted a discussion to the CALP Portal asking about a book club for readers with lower literacy and English Language Learners. I had some experience running the ‘Easiest Book Club Ever’ in my former library life and was happy to share. It has since occurred to me that other CALP staff might be interested in exploring a similar programming idea.
The format of a book club provides a fantastic shared learning experience:
To begin, your book club needs a name. I have pulled the suggestions below from the discussion thread Kelsey started. CALP staff quickly realized and responded to the challenge of attracting the right audience – adult foundational learners.
In addition to a clear program name, you will want to provide a brief program description. In Kelsey’s case, they included the descriptor “anyone who wants to improve their reading but needs some support along the way”. Other CALP staff suggested including details like:
I remember including these prompts in promotional material for the Easiest Book Club Ever:
With a snappy title and clear program description, it is now time to consider your Learning Plan. To plan my book club I relied heavily on Pat Campbell’s Teaching Beginning Readers. This resource presents a list of ten principles for working with beginning readers and focuses on twenty instructional activities. Each of the six weekly sessions focused on one of the following reading strategies: prediction, character analysis, inference, retelling, summarizing and reflection. Remember - it is not enough to introduce these reading strategies once - instead learners are much more successful when you revisit them week to week.
Sample week 1 Lesson Plan
You need a good book to build upon these reading strategies. In fact, book selection is key for a successful book club. For this reason, I favoured the adult literacy chapter books from either the Good Reads or Rapid Reads collections. Both collections feature:
Gathering multiple copies of a book title may be one of your greatest book club challenges. Some Community Adult Learning Programs have turned this in an opportunity to collaborate with their local library while others have taken advantage of the Bulk Book Orders and Discounts for CALPs.
Finally, you will want to consider the space where your book club meets. When possible try to replicate a traditional book club:
If you are interested in starting your own foundational book club, you may want to start with the Centre for Family Literacy’s Power Point presentation Book Club: A Valuable and Fun Vehicle for Literacy Learning. This session was presented at the 2015 Literacy and Learning Symposium, and provides a great overview for introducing a book club to your Literacy and Foundational Learning programming. Many thanks to the Centre for sharing this resource with the CALP community!
For those CALP staff already running a book club, please share your experiences. You can comment below or join the online discussion.
Emily Robinson Leclair
CLN South Regional Support Staff