Book Club in a Bag Program
Brought to you by participating libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System


Discussion Leader Tips

Discussion Leader Tips

  • Prepare ahead of time, read the book, biographical information about the author and book reviews. Prepare questions ahead of time or use the questions included with your Book Club in a Bag.

  • Have a comfortable seating arrangement.

  • Begin by introducing yourself and, if people are not all familiar with each other, have them go around and introduce themselves.

  • Think of yourself as a facilitator. Try to begin with a provocative question and step back. Avoid closed-ended questions like " Did you like the book?"

  • Your job as a leader is to maintain the focus and keep the discussion moving.

  • Be a good listener and observer. Listen for quiet members and try to draw them into the discussion. Watch for someone anxious to get into the conversation and help them to find a gap in the conversation.

  • Respect everyone's opinion. Not everyone will like the book. When there are differing views encourage discussion about the reasons for liking or disliking a book. Let it be known that the group is non-judgmental and everyone's opinion is valued. Often the best discussions happen when there is less agreement.

  • Don't use the discussion questions as if it were an exam. Rather use them as conversation starters.

  • Choose a favorite passage or two from the book. Reading aloud can bring a new perspective to the passage.

  • Don't worry too much about short silent periods, but be prepared with your own notes to get the discussion started again.

  • Be sure to end on time, summarize points made during the session and thank everyone for their participation.

For more discussion leader tips:

Books (all are available from the Mid-Hudson Library System Catalog):

· The Book Group Book, edited by Ellen Slezak (with a foreword by Margaret Atwood), Chicago Review Press, 1995

· The New York Public Library Guide To Reading Groups, by Rollene Saal, Crown Publishers, 1995.

· The Reading Group Handbook, by Rachel W. Jacobsohn, Hyperion, 1998

· The Reading Group Book : The Complete Guide To Starting And Sustaining A Reading Group, With Annotated Lists Of 250 Titles For Provocative Discussion by David Laskin, Plume, 1995.

Web Sites:
· Biographies & Literary Criticism in HomeACCESS (available through your local library's web site)

· Internet Resources for Book Discussion Groups (Tempe Public Library, AZ)

last updated: 3.7.2006