Virtual School Book Club: Why and How to Start One in 2021

Why and how to start a virtual book club at school

Your Guide to Virtual School Book Clubs

  • 5 Reasons to Start a Virtual School Book Club
  • How to Start a Virtual School Book Club in 5 Steps
  • What’s Next for your Virtual School Book Club?

5 Reasons to Start a Virtual School Book Club

#1: Remote-Friendly

  • Zoom — video conferencing software to host your virtual school book club.
  • AhaSlides — free, interactive presentation software to facilitate live discussion, idea exchange, polls and quizzes about the material.
  • Excalidraw — a virtual + free communal whiteboard that allows readers to illustrate their points (see how it works down here)
  • Facebook/Reddit — any social forum where teachers and students can link to material like author interviews, press releases, etc.

#2: The Perfect Age Group

#3: Employable Skills

#4: Personal Attributes

#5: …Something to do?

How to Start a Virtual School Book Club in 5 Steps

Step 1: Decide on your Target Readers

  • What age group should I aim this book club at?
  • What level of reading experience should I expect of my readers?
  • Should I have seperate meetings for fast readers and slow readers?

Step 2: Choose your Book List

  • Start out with some fairly easy books to test the water.
  • Throw in a curve ball! Choose 1 or 2 books that you think no one has heard of.
  • If you have reluctant readers, offer them a choice of 3 to 5 books and let them vote for their favourite.

Step 3: Establish the Structure (+ Pick your Activities)

  • How often the club will meet together online.
  • The specific date and time of the meeting.
  • How long each meeting should last.
  • Whether readers should read the whole book, or meet together after every 5 chapters, for example.
  • How long you want to discuss the book for.
  • Whether you want to get your readers to do live readings over Zoom.
  • Whether or not you want to have practical activities outside of discussion.
  • How long each activity will last.
  1. Drawing — Student readers of any age usually love to draw. If your readers are younger, you can task them to draw a few characters based on their descriptions. If your readers are older, you can encourage them to draw something more conceptual, like a plot point or relationship between two characters.
  2. Acting — Even with an online literature circle, there’s so much room for getting active. You can put groups of readers into digital breakout rooms and give them a part of the plot to act out. Give them a decent amount of time to plan their performance, then bring them back to the main room to show it off!
  3. Quizzing — Always a favourite! Make a short quiz about what happened in the latest chapters and test your readers’ memory and understanding.

Step 4: Set out your Questions (Free Template)

  • Did you like the book?
  • Who do you relate to the most in the book, and why?
  • How would you rate the plot, the characters and the writing style in the book?
  • Which character changed the most throughout the book? How did they change?

👉 Download it Here 👈

  1. Click the link above to see the questions and example answers.
  2. If you would like to use the template, click ‘sign up’ to create a free AhaSlides account.
  3. Press the ‘copy to your account’ button, then the ‘go to your presentations’ button (the example answers will not be copied across).
  4. Add or change anything you want about the questions.
  5. Present the questions over screen share on Zoom, invite your readers in via the room code and progress through each question together!

Step 5: Let’s Read!

  • Set the rules — Especially with younger students, virtual literature circles can quickly descend into anarchy. Lay down the law from the very first meeting. Talk them through each activity, how they will work and how the software you’re using helps them to keep the discussions orderly.
  • Get high attaining students involved — Chances are that the most avid readers in your book club will be the most excited for it to kick off. You can make the most of this enthusiasm by asking these students to lead some of the discussion and activities. Not only does this equip them with some great leadership skills for the future, but it’s likely to engage the readers who still see you as a ‘teacher’, and are therefore shy to voice opinions in front of you.
  • Use some virtual ice breakers — At the very first book club, it’s pretty much essential to get readers familiar with each other. Engaging in some virtual ice breakers can loosen up the shy students and make them more likely to share their thoughts in the session ahead.

What’s Next for your Virtual School Book Club?

  1. Preview and download the pre-club survey.
  2. Preview and download the in-club discussion questions.



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AhaSlides, the online interactive presentation tool created to turn you — the speaker — into the real star on stage. Website: