Key Features of Literature Circles

    Children choose their own reading materials.
    Small temporary groups are formed, based on book choice.
    Different groups read different books
    Groups meet on a regular predictable schedule.
    Students use written or drawn notes to guide both their reading and discussion.
    Discussion topics come from the students
    Group meetings aim to be open, natural conversations. Often the conversations digress to topics relating to the students or loosely to the books, but should eventually return to the novel.
    The teacher serves as a facilitator, observer, listener and often a fellow reader, alongside the students. The teacher is not an instructor.
    Students are given roles or jobs to complete for each group meeting.
    The teacher should model how students should facilitate each role or job.
    Evaluation is by teacher observation and student self-evaluation and should also include extension projects.
    A spirit of playfulness and fun pervades the room.
    New groups form around new reading choices.

(Daniels, 1994)

Discussion prompts can be given by the teacher to encourage a direction for the students' responses, such as "How does the setting affect the characters?" "What are alternative solutions to the character's conflicts in the text?" "What connections can you make with regard to the character's situation(s)?"