By Ken Smith – Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Every Tuesday night (“Tuesday’s with Mr.Smith”?) at the college I teach at in southern Taiwan a group of students called “Book Travelers” gets together for a group discussion about books.
It is based on Mark Furr’s work with Reading Circles, but I’ve also added elements from the Robin Williams film “Dead Poet’s Society”.
Although we don’t use graded readers with this group, over the years we have discussed books including classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, and The Catcher in the Rye as well as more modern fiction including books by Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist, The Devil and Miss Prym, Veronika Decides to Die), Lois Lowry (The Giver, Gathering Blue), Yann Martel (Life of Pi), Mitch Albom (Tuesday’s with Morrie, For One More Day) and others like Into the Wild (John Krakauer), The Shack (William P. Young), and Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
When available I show a film version of the book we just finished reading.
Right now the group is reading “I Am the Messenger” by Markus Zusak.
Depending on the book, students are asked to read good chunks of reading (usually 40-50 pages a week) and come to meetings prepared with materials to share based on roles such as Summarizer, Word Master, Passage Person, Culture Collector, and Connector (we’ve added others too!) which we choose prior to each meeting. Usually the group reads two books a semester, one I choose and one the group selects.
It’s a student-centered group (although with input and guidance from the teacher at each meeting) using the roles that are presented in “Bookworms Club Gold’s” series.
The title of the book that includes these roles (the last few pages of the book) is called Stories for Reading Circles edited by Mark Furr. ISBN: 9780194720021