Looking for fresh ideas for elementary literature circle roles for use with fiction and nonfiction books?

I’ve put together a list of 19 literature circle roles for elementary kids that…

  • Help you differentiate instruction.
  • Integrate seamlessly with math, science, and social studies book topics.

NOTE: Literature circles function A LOT better if students have practiced the required reading skills for each role several times beforehand.

That way, minimal explanation is needed for each role since students will have already worked several times with the strategy either in guided reading, whole group instruction, or centers.

Literature Circle Roles for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Graders

1. Character Critic

The Character Critic’s primary duties include observing and evaluating how one or more characters change throughout a book.

Nonfiction books such as biographies and autobiographies lend themselves very well to the Character Critic literature circle role.

This is a great role for analyzing characters.

2. Connector

The Connector makes and records text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections.

  • Text-to-Self – Parts of the text that remind the reader of himself/herself in some way
  • Text-to-Text – The book reminds the reader of another book with a similar significant “something”
  • Text-to-World – Something in the book reminds the reader of a real-world situation

The key is guiding students to make deep connections with real significance that will help them understand the story better.

The book, Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement, by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis, is a wonderful resource for ideas on helping students make deeper connections.

3. Fact Finder

The Fact Finder records interesting facts about the book topic and shares them with the group.

Have students aim for at least 5 facts, but the actual number will vary as it depends on the grade level and academic level of each student.

4. Graphic Designer

The Graphic Designer role is great for differentiating and providing student choice.

The Graphic Designer has the opportunity to choose any graphic organizer that he or she wants to fill out and share with group members.

To save time, have different sets of graphic organizers already copied for students.

5. Inference Detective

Prove it…that’s what the Inference Detective has to do.

The Inference Detective infers information from the reading based on pictures, clues from the text, and/or the characters’ actions/words.

Additionally, he or she must provide evidence from the book to support those inferences.

If the evidence is based on prior knowledge, the Inference Detective must record and explain his/her reasoning very clearly to the group.

6. Literary Luminary

The Literary Luminary examines figurative language, vivid descriptions, and interesting uses of parts of speech (such as strong verbs).

She or he has a way with words and shares with the group how the author uses special language to bring the story to life.

7. Math Specialist

The Math Specialist has the task of using some of the characters and any relevant information from the book to create 1 or 2 math word problems.

As an example…

If the literature circle group is reading a nonfiction book about reducing wastes and recycling, the Math Specialist may share a graph with the group showing how recycling has reduced wastes over a certain period of time.

This role is great for integrating math and literacy.

8. News Reporter

Retelling the story or a significant scene/part of the story using the 5 Ws + How is the News Reporter’s main job.

  • Who are the main characters? Who did what?
  • What happened?
  • What were the main events?
  • When, where, why, and how did it happen?

You may want to extend these questions to challenge your advanced learners.

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literature circle roles elementary

9. Question Guru

The Question Guru creates questions that will help group members understand the text better.

The QAR or Question-Answer Relationship reading strategy facilitates students in categorizing questions into four groups:

  • Right There” Questions -answers that can be found easily within the text.
  • Think and Search” Questions -answers can be found in the text but require a bit more looking around.
  • Questions that require students to infer the answers based on clues from the text are known as “Author and Me”.
  • On My Own” questions don’t have answers that can be found in the text. Answers are based solely on the prior knowledge and experiences of the reader.

10. Quizzler

The Quizzler creates a quiz or fun assessment of some sort for the group.

This quiz tests group members’ understanding of the book, a section or chapter.

The Quizzler can make a true/false quiz, short multiple-choice, or a little game.

11. Reading/Writing Connector

As the Reading/Writing Connector reads, he or she takes note of any writing strategies that the author uses to make the writing more powerful and/or easily understood by the reader.

He or she then shares these writing strategies with the group, pointing them out in the book.

Group members now have a bank of strategies they can refer to during independent writing time of Writer’s Workshop.

12. Researcher

Got a student who asks a million questions and is curious about everything?

Then the Researcher role is for her.

The Researcher’s main job is to dig up background information about the author, book theme (s), historical references ~ anything relevant to the topic of the book.

She or he gathers information from a variety of reliable resources and shares findings with the literature circle group.

13. Sketch Artist

The Sketch Artist sketches images they visualize while reading the book.

They may sketch a particular scene, chapter, character, or a symbol/icon that represents a common theme.

The student can add a few labels and captions if desired.

The fun part is having group members guess what part of the text the Sketch Artist chose to draw.

Afterwards, the Sketch Artist confirms the group’s predictions by explaining his sketches.

14. Summarizer (Fiction)

The Summarizer writes a summary that includes the most important information from the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

15. Summarizer (Non-fiction)

The difference between the two Summarizer literature circles roles is that the non-fiction format is not typically organized into beginning, middle, and end.

With non-fiction texts, the Summarizer takes main ideas from each part of the chapter, section, or book and writes a summary using those statements.

16. Symbolism Seeker

  • What’s the “Big Message” in the book or chapter?
  • What are the big themes or ideas?
  • Is the author trying to teach me anything?

These are questions that the Symbolism Seeker must answer in some way, shape, or form.

This literature circle role requires a lot of deep thinking.

17. Text Feature Analyzer

An important skill in comprehending nonfiction texts is analyzing text features.

Text features include, but are not limited to…

  • bold text
  • italics
  • an index
  • captions
  • headings
  • labeled diagrams
  • table of contents

A Text Feature Analyzer searches for and analyzes how the author uses text features to help the reader understand the text better.

He or she then shares that information with the literature circle group.

18. Wild Card

The “Wild Card” literature circle role chooses to share with her group any reading comprehension activity or strategy.

19. Word Whiz

The Word Whiz is always on the lookout for interesting vocabulary from the book that has special meaning or stands out in some way.

His main duties include explaining to the group how he used context clues to learn unfamiliar words.

He is also in charge of identifying multiple-meaning words from the text and explaining the various definitions.

Conclusion

There you have it – 19 fun literature circle roles for elementary students.

If you’re looking to integrate technology while doing book clubs, check out these literature circle tech tools that make literature circle roles even more engaging.

Happy teaching and learning