Literature Circle Lesson Plan

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

A literature circle is a teaching strategy that empowers students with the choice of what they read and how they read it while teaching students the habits of skilled readers. Use this lesson plan to implement literature circles in your classroom.


This lesson plan will help students become more proficient independent readers through the use of the literature circle strategy.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson students will be able to:

  • describe the plot, characters, and thematic content of a novel with classmates
  • summarize sections or plotlines of a novel
  • support student-generated ideas by citing evidence from a novel
  • connect ideas or events in a novel to relevant topics and ideas
  • create illustrations to illuminate reading passages


Literature circles will take 15-30 minutes a day for 2-4 weeks.

Curriculum Standards


Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.


Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone

Vocabulary and Phrases

  • Discussion Director
  • Summarizer
  • Connector
  • Illustrator
  • Word Wizard
  • Passage Picker
  • Researcher


(Optional) Role cards - some classes may need cards that explain the individual literature circle roles. Creating these in the shape of bookmarks can make them doubly useful.

Lesson Instructions

In the literature circle strategy, you'll create small student reading groups. Each day, the groups will come to class having read a certain amount of a novel. Alternately, you can designate class time for sustained silent reading. When it's time for literature circles, students will move into their groups to discuss the novel. Each student has a particular job to perform, and the jobs are created to mimic the habits of skilled readers. Literature circles help students become better readers by allowing them to focus on one aspect of their reading while receiving support from their peers.

You can use the Literature Circle approach in classes where all the groups are reading the same book at the same pace, or you can have each group read a different book. The groups can be student-created or teacher-created, based on reading level or built to have a mix of reading levels.

At the heart of the literature circle approach are the roles. An ideal size for a literature circle group is five students. There are seven roles included here to allow flexibility. It's a good practice to have students switch roles each day, so set aside a few minutes at the end of each period to rotate the roles, so you'll know that every student has a chance to try each role in this strategy.

Discussion Director

The Discussion Director should begin the conversation and direct group members to contribute, if necessary, and keep the conversation on topic. This student's job is to prepare a list of questions based on the selection. These questions should be open-ended ones that promote discussion. Sometimes it's helpful for teachers to meet with Discussion Directors for a mini-lesson on how to write good questions. If you allow students to plan their own reading assignments, the Discussion Director will also pick the amount to be read for the next class meeting.


Summarizers prepare a summary of the selection for each group meeting. These students work on getting across the essentials of the plot without going into too much detail. If you find that the Summarizers aren't concise enough, set a word limit on their summaries.

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