Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Historical Fiction Book Clubs

It's about time I get back into a post about teaching, especially since I'll be off for summer soon (although I do find myself creating and reading a lot for school in the summer, so I'll be sure to have things to share in July and August, too!).

We use Lucy Calkins Units in my school, although we supplement and create add-ons as needed to support these lessons.

We used MANY picture books to launch Historical Fiction, and walked through the key elements within each one that justified it's genre as Historical Fiction.  Posters and charts such as the one above were filled in to keep track, and were then hung all around the room.  Some books we used were:

     Henry's Freedom Box - By Ellen Levine
     The Butterfly - By Patricia Polacco
     Faithful Elephants - By Yukio Tsuchiya
     Pink and Say - By Patricia Polacco
     Freedom on the Menu - By Carole Boston Weatherford
     The Other Side - By Jacqueline Woodson

After creating many charts where we worked through key elements of historical fiction, we developed an overall chart that outlined what readers of historical fiction do:

We were then, ALMOST, ready for our book clubs (which students were so excited for).  We had done group discussions already this year during our short text unit, but I wanted a little something more to encourage discussion, so I thought up: 

We practiced logical stopping points to think (noted on the logs of the fire), and how to phrase fire starters that could be brought back to the group to encourage discussion (noted on the flames).  We did a series of them together with one of the picture books, and students were really into thinking of ways to "ignite" thinking in their group.

From here, students chose book options they were interested in, and groups were formed.  Students set guidelines for their group, using the overarching principles we set together:

(I apologize for this getting cut off, but you get the idea!)

The last step was for students to develop a reading schedule to ensure they all had the same stopping points.  I walked them through how to best do this by splitting their book into fourths, and making sure to stop at the end of a chapter.  I created a bookmark for each group, where they filled in their stopping points. I also made a classroom chart with all bookmarks so that I could be sure of all groups' progress.

We went through 2 sets of novels, and students LOVED it! For the 2nd set, I wanted to do something a bit different for their meetings, so they worked to create and add to a big chart of their own that outlined the important concepts of their book.  Before doing so, we brainstormed important elements of historical fiction books that could be noted on their chart. The list included: 

     *Setting (Time period/Location)
     *Main Characters
     *Fire Starters
     *Unfamiliar Words

Students chose which of these to include on their book's chart, and I noticed that their discussions even further improved with this task because the conversation surrounding what to add and what to not add become even more intense since the success of their chart was at stake! 

You can get free downloads to some of the items discussed on this post at my TPT store.

Happy Historical Fiction Reading! 


  1. Hey,

    Nice post...
    Would you like to follow each other on bloglovin and GFC!!!
    Have a gr8 week...
    Keep in touch,

  2. Thanks Pooja! Following you on Bloglovin :) I don't really use GFC, but I'll look into it!

  3. thanks lot for dropping by my blog .. im following you on bloglovin... ur blog is so creative....

    keep in touch,


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