I’ve posted about the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) in the past but want to highlight a specific resource available on their website. The CCBC Book Discussion Guidelines:
Ginny Moore Kruse and Kathleen T. Horning
© 1989 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Look at each book for what it is, rather than what it is not.
- Make positive comments first. Try to express what you liked about the book and why. (e.g. “The illustrations are a perfect match for the story because….”)
- After everyone has had the opportunity to say what they appreciated about the book, you may talk about difficulties you had with a particular aspect of the book. Try to express difficulties as questions, rather than declarative judgments on the book as a whole. (e.g. “Would Max’s dinner really have still been warm?” rather than “That would never happen.”)
- Avoid recapping the story or booktalking the book. There is not time for a summary.
- Refrain from relating personal anecdotes. The discussion must focus on the book at hand.
- Try to compare the book with others on the discussion list, rather than other books by the same author or other books in your experience.
All perspectives and vocabularies are correct.
There is no “right” answer or single correct response.
- Listen openly to what is said, rather than who says it.
- Respond to the comments of others, rather than merely waiting for an opportunity to share your comments.
- Talk with each other, rather than to the discussion facilitator.
- Comment to the group as a whole, rather than to someone seated near you.
Whether it’s with elementary students or adults, I’ve found these guidelines to be extremely successful and refer to them often. I find it’s best to have a copy of the guidelines ready for each new attendee of a book discussion group. In addition, reading over the guidelines before the discussion helps to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Helpful hint for schools and libraries: I keep a set of them within sheet protectors of the same three ring binder used to keep track of books so I can easily distribute them before a discussion. This helps keep down the costs of printing and waste by reusing the guidelines.