A literature circle is a small-group learning exercise that can be used to get your class to think critically about texts while they explore teamwork and communication skills.

The students gather together to discuss a piece of literature in depth. This discussion will be guided by students’ responses to what they have read.

This discussion can be about the writing style, personal responses to the story, or events and characters within the book.

What makes literature circles different from regular text discussions is that the children are given roles that will help facilitate the conversation. This provides an extra structure that will make the debate more accessible and understandable to your students, especially those at the primary level.

This kind of literature circle task gives children a chance to engage their critical-thinking and reflection skills making them more comfortable reading and responding to texts.

It’s all about having a collaborative spirit, which also makes it more unique than a regular reading response, which is often very individual and solitary. As a result, students can find new meaning, And, of course, they will be able to come away confident about what they have read and inspired to read more in the future.

How to set up a literature circle

Book choice is the best place to start with a literature circle. You are looking for a text that will be exciting and relevant to your group. It should be within their reading level, with around 90% of the vocabulary familiar to them. Remember that this task focuses on responding to a text. Feeling comfortable with the language and themes will help encourage deeper comprehension skills, such as inferring and using context clues.

Choosing the roles

The roles within a literature circle session provide a great opportunity for your class to focus on one aspect of literature. Swapping their parts each session will add great variety to your lessons. Here are some main roles you can choose in a reading comprehension activity.

Role Description Skills Worked On
Discussion Director


The discussion director will develop a selection of questions to guide the session.

They will also make sure that everyone gets their turn to speak

  • Questioning
  • Inferring
  • Listening
Word Wizard The word wizard is responsible for sharing any new vocabulary when reading before finding out the meaning.

The group members can also ask for these new words to be written down.

  • Dictionary Skills
  • Monitoring and Clarifying
Creative Connector


This role is about finding connections within the text and explaining these to the wider group.

The connections might be text-to-text, text-to-self, or text-to-world.

  • Making Connections
Summarizer The summariser will start the session by identifying the text’s key ideas and end the session by summing up what the class has learned.
  • Summarising
Passage Finder This group member will pick parts of the text to guide the discussion. The details they choose will be ones they find interesting or match the ideas being spoken about.
  • Prioritizing
  • Identifying Importance
  • Listening

Tips for Literature Circles

  • Offer choices throughout. Literature circles encourage inquisitive learning by centering children’s voices from the text that gets covered to the selection of roles. Giving options at every level will promote this.
  • Focus on one piece of text at a time. Some children read at different rates, so each session must cover a small, manageable text portion. Remember to remind your students not to spoil the ending, as not everyone will be racing ahead!
  • Stay in the background. While your students might be used to you explaining the meaning of texts, that might stop children from sharing all of their ideas. Peer-to-peer exercises are helpful for this.
  • Have a clear end-goal. This could be as simple as finishing the text or as full as writing a book review after the activity.
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