The Missouri Reader Vol. 41, Issue 2 - Page 58

Isn’t one of your biggest hopes and dreams for your students to leave your classroom with the love of reading? This hope became my passion in my classroom. Parents were fueling my passion when throughout the year they were saying, “My child loves to read now” and “I do not have to fight with my child to read at home anymore.”

One day, close to the end of the year, my fourth-grade teaching team and I (four teachers total) were talking about how we wanted to be sure our incoming fourth-grade students and our outgoing fourth-grade students would read over the summer. We came up with a plan for each of us to read one of the Mark Twain Nominees book and have a Mark Twain Book Club over that one book all summer. We only had to worry about one book for three months, which was doable and not overwhelming. This gave the students four choices, but they only met three times on the book of their choice. They did not have to come with questions answered or do any prep work in the summer except for reading their book.

In the summer, we decided to meet at different places each month. The first month, June, we met at the public library so students could get a library card. The second month, July, we met at Wendy’s; and the last month, August before school started, we met at Godfather’s Pizza. The students were supposed to read the book ahead of time and discuss the book at the end of the month. The advantage of forming the clubs to include our outgoing fourth-grade students was they knew how we expected book discussions to go. They modeled the expectations for the new fourth-grade students. We were not formal in the summer clubs. We had fun with the students and we also got to know each other before school started.


This is our second year of doing the Mark Twain Book Club and we keep tweaking it to make it better. We started with just the book club in the summer and continued the same format throughout the whole year. The book club is not mandatory—it is optional. The parents are fully responsible for getting their child’s book each month by the first of the month. There are 12 Mark Twain books, and we encourage the students to read all 12 by the end of the school year. If they do, they get a certificate and a Barnes and Noble gift card of $10. Our librarian buys these from her budget. In order for the librarian to know which students have read all 12 books, she has them do an online book report that they post on their Seesaw account ( They really enjoy doing this and does not seem like a chore—it is something that they get to do! Each time they complete a report, their name is posted on her wall.

The biggest reason we do a book club is because several parents have told us their child is reading a book all the way through for the first time now. Before, they would just pick up any old book to read and log 20 minutes of reading, but now they must be prepared to discuss what is going on in the book when we meet.

Implementing this plan is very simple, manageable, and there is no prep except for you, the teacher, reads one book every four months when we start a new rotation of books. Each teacher picks one book for which she will hold a book club. We did not want to lose instructional time, but did not want to take the children who are participating in book club to miss recess either. We made a compromise and we use five minutes of instructional time and five minutes of their recess. The students do not mind this arrangement because they love to discuss their books. We make the book clubs fun and students can dig deeper in their books for understanding and comprehension.

Each teacher picks one day a week that they will meet with their group. For example, I meet with my book club every Wednesday, five minutes before the second recess. The students from the other classes who are in my book club come into my room, and we start the book club. My other students continue to work until recess, and then they walk down the hallway with the teacher who has recess duty. They are taught to line up quietly and not disturb the group.

The book club students know when they meet with their book club because we use Google Classroom to communicate with our students. We divide the book into four sections and they have to read those pages before our time to meet. Everyone is expected to participate in the discussion. They look forward to this each week. With students having four choices each semester to read the books, they have the power to choose which order.



How We Changed the Dreaded Reading Logs to Our Whole Class Loving to Read

Toni Henderson


Heather Ruffin

Isn’t one of y



Classroom Close-up