The Power of Book Studies

by Dr. Julie Powell, Lakeshore Public Schools, LFM Board Member

I was recently asked by an elementary teacher in my district if I would like to do a book study with her. She was trying to find a handful of people who would like to meet every other week in the summer and read something that was educational and uplifting, yet not too heavy. She wanted something teachers would enjoy reading and get something out of that would positively impact their teaching, but not be overly prescriptive that would dampen the fun of summer. I was thrilled that she sought out my opinion, but more importantly, my participation in this book study. It affirmed for me my place with teachers  – that many of them valued me, saw me as a peer/colleague rather than an authority, felt comfortable with my learning alongside them.

I have gone through the past ten years or so craving the joy of a book study, yet finding it incredibly hard to fit into my schedule. It is also hard to come up with a great book that will feed the souls of all those who are there, benefit everyone and still be social and fun. I have participated in a few where the books were just “okay” and the facilitators may have been loosely organized or the flow was too choppy, and I was disappointed. I have done online book studies where people type in responses to questions, which can be a great learning option other than it doesn’t feel very social. What are the hidden rules or gems for quality educational book studies?

If I am the one leading the book study, I normally feel compelled to find the perfect book, which is daunting. I read many educational books that I like parts of, but that doesn’t seem quite right. Has anyone ever done article studies instead? Does anyone have a great format for a book study that they would be willing to share?

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