1st Edition

Better Book Clubs Deepening Comprehension and Elevating Conversation

By Sara Kugler Copyright 2022

    In her comprehensive guide, Better Book Clubs: Deepening Comprehension and Elevating Conversation, literacy coach and staff developer Sara Kugler shows you how to combine the power of book clubs with assessment-driven instruction to support your students as they talk and think about texts together. Using authentic book club conversations as an assessment of academic talk and text understanding, Kugler raises the bar on typical professional discussions about book clubs, moving beyond teacher-directed interactions and surface-level conversations to include:

    • Structures, teaching methods, and routines that support authenticity and independence in book clubs
    • Suggestions for starting, scaffolding, and sustaining effective, student-centered book clubs
    • Tips for listening in on clubs as a way to assess academic talk and text understanding
    • Methods for moving from observation into instruction that improves conversation and comprehension
    • Touchstone anchor charts and sample lessons for launching and maintaining strong clubs at a variety of independence levels

    With a dual focus on stronger comprehension and improved conversations, Better Book Clubs will help you establish effective book clubs that will engage your readers, enhance your learning communities, and become an indispensable component of your literacy classroom.

    Chapter 1: Grounding Book Clubs in the Predictability of Workshop; Chapter 2: Scaffolding Toward Book Club Conversations; Chapter 3: Forming Groups and Launching Book Clubs; Chapter 4: Utilizing Talk as an Assessment; Chapter 5: Teaching for Comprehension and Conversation; Chapter 6: Growth over Time


    Sara Kugler is a literacy coach and consultant based in Northern Virginia. Previously a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project as well as a classroom teacher in Brooklyn, New York, Sara currently designs elementary literacy curriculum and professional learning opportunities for Woodburn Elementary School in the Fairfax County Public Schools system. 

    "Book clubs can make a big impact in the classroom; but as Kugler demonstrates, structured and scaffolded implementation is key for them to be successful. While anyone doing book discussions can find useful material here, this work is recommended for elementary and middle school teachers." —Laura Fieldsα (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

    “Children need and deserve time to be in community with one another to talk about books in ways that grows their comprehension and increases their love of reading. And teachers need and deserve this excellent book by Sara Kugler for the tips, tools, and strategies to help us lead these book clubs well.” —Jennifer Serravallo, author of The Writing Strategies Book and The Reading Strategies Book

    “I dare you to read just the first three pages of Better Book Clubs and not fall in love with it. In the very first sentence, Sara Kugler introduces us to the idea of book clubs as ‘a practice of liberation’ and a path to growing powerful readers both inside and outside the classroom. And with every subsequent turn of the page, Sara draws us a roadmap to a book club practice that is both accessible and aspirational. This book is full of the kinds of tips, lessons and tools that will help teachers move from big ideas to action, and I can't wait to see the tremendous impact it will make in classrooms!” —Kassia Omohundro Wedekind, co-author of Hands Down, Speak Out, and author of Math Exchanges

    “The introduction of Better Book Clubs makes the case that book clubs are for all kids. If you still need some convincing, flip to the last chapter and listen to the growth Sara Kugler’s students made from February to May. These are the conversations our kids deserve, and these are the opportunities we dream of facilitating as teachers. No need to wait. Sara knew we needed this book, so she decided to sit down next to us and coach us along the way.” —Kathleen Fay, author of Powerful Book Introductions and Becoming One Community

    “In Better Book Clubs, Sara has made the aspirational (I'd love to do book clubs) practical (I can do book clubs). Research, classroom stories, and practical strategies blend with Sara's passion to make not only a helpful professional text but an enjoyable one. A must-read for anyone interested in facilitating rich dynamic thinking and talking around books.” —Kristi Mraz, coauthor of Kids First from Day One and Mindset for Learning

    “We all know the autonomy, engagement, and relationships built during book clubs are critical for students. We also know how difficult teaching these days can be and how much needs to get done right now. There are valid reasons to view book clubs as something extra that can be put off until we accomplish the important things. In her book, Sara makes a compelling case for why and how book clubs are important. She not only explains what fundamental literacy skills and habits are developed through book clubs, but also takes us step-by-step through ways to help make them happen well. Warm, practical, and very realistic, this is a great book for both veterans and novice book club teachers.” — M. Colleen Cruz, author of Risk. Fail. Rise.: A Teacher’s Guide to Learning from Mistakes and the Writers Read Better Series