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Literature Circle Discussion Question Examples

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Getting students involved in literature circles is a wonderful way to help them think deeply and abstractly about text. The discussion questions in this lesson will help you and your students keep conversation going.

The Value of Literature Circles

If you are trying to get your students more involved in literary discussions, grouping them for literature circles can be a wonderful idea. Whether your students are reading fiction, nonfiction, drama or poetry, the literature circle provides a forum in which they can have deep, meaningful discussions and get at the concepts and ideas that feel most powerful to them. Literature circles prepare students for authentic, lifelong involvement with text and language.

At the same time, literature circles can be challenging for students. One of the biggest difficulties is often in finding a way to get and keep discussion going. To avoid your students simply saying 'I'm done' after five minutes, you will want to have some strong discussion questions available. This lesson offers discussion questions that are intentionally open-ended to elicit more conversation, and are also general enough to be applicable to a variety of literature.

Questions About Characters

  • Which character in this book do you relate to most, and why? What attributes of this character remind you of yourself?
  • Who is your favorite character in the text so far? What do you like so much about this character?
  • Choose two different characters in the text and talk about how they are similar to and different from one another.
  • Which character in the text do you think changes the most as the plot unfolds? Describe how this character changes and talk about whether or not you find these changes realistic.
  • What relationship between two characters or among more than two characters really stands out to you in this text? What do you think the author is trying to demonstrate through this relationship?
  • Which character in this text do you like the least? What, specifically, makes this character not likable to you? Do you think the author intentionally created this character that way? Explain why or why not.

Questions About Language

  • What stands out to you about the author's use of language? Offer some specific examples that illustrate your point.
  • How does the author of this work use metaphor? What do you think about the way metaphor is used in this particular text?
  • What are some examples of imagery that the author uses? How does the use of imagery contribute to what you take away from the text?
  • What are some vocabulary words you were unfamiliar with in the text? If you were able to figure these words out, how did you do it? Can you help each other make sense of the unfamiliar vocabulary this author uses?
  • Choose one line, sentence, or paragraph from the text. As a group, do a really close reading of the excerpt you have chosen, trying to analyze the author's language choices as deeply as possible.

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