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
- 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:
(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.
· Biographies & Literary Criticism in HomeACCESS (available
through your local library's
Resources for Book Discussion Groups (Tempe Public Library, AZ)