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Small Library Logo

M A I N   L I B R A R Y
200 West Park Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32301  
(850) 606-2665
TDD (850) 606-2603

For Branch Locations and Hours, Click Here.

Discussion Leader Tips

  • Traveling Book Club GraphicPrepare 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 Traveling Book Club kit.
  • 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 Leon County Public Library System):

  • The New York Public Library Guide To Reading Groups, by Rollene Saal, Crown Publishers, 1995.This helpful guide provides stimulating reading lists and practical tips for organizing and leading your own successful book-discussion group. Explains how to get a group started, determine its ideal size, weigh the pros and cons of having a leader, understand the effects of various leadership styles, develop a book list that will appeal to your group's interests, and foster a good discussion.
  • The Reading Group Handbook, by Rachel W. Jacobsohn, Hyperion, 1998 is widely recognized as the definitive guide to starting a book club. Now, with new material geared specifically toward fans of Oprah's Book Club, this book is the one source fans will need to take their love of books to the next logical step and start their own reading groups.
  • 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. A complete guide to starting and sustaining a reading group--with annotated lists of 250 titles for provocative discussion. Filled with funny and insightful stories from book group members, independent booksellers, and even a sociologist, this guide will inspire the start-up of new groups.

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