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How to lead a Book Club Discussion

1.    Read the book - This may seem obvious, but it is the most important step, so it is worth stating. It is a good idea to plan on finishing the book a little earlier than you might otherwise so that you have time to think about it and prepare before your book club meets.

2.    Write down important page numbers - If there are parts of the book that made an impact on you or that you think may come up in discussion, write down the page numbers  (or use sticky notes) so that you can access the passages easily while preparing and leading the book club discussion.

3.    Come up with eight to ten questions about the book – Your Kit may include ready-made questions, but feel free to adapt them to your group’s needs.

4.    Let others answer first -  By letting others in the book club answer first, you will promote conversation and help everyone feel like their opinions matter.

5.    Make connections between comments - Try to find a link between an answer and the next question, even if it is not in order of your list. By connecting people's comments to the questions, you'll help build momentum in the conversation.

6.    Occasionally direct questions toward quiet people - You don't want to put anyone on the spot, but you want everyone to know their opinions are valued.

7.    Rein in tangents - Book clubs are popular not only because people like to read, but also because they are great social outlets. A little off topic conversation is fine, but you also want to respect the fact that people have read the book and expect to talk about it. 

8.    Don't feel obligated to get through all the questions - The best questions sometimes lead to intense conversations. That's a good thing! The questions are there as a guide. While you will want to get through at least three or four questions, it will probably be rare that you finish all ten. 

9.    Wrap up the discussion - One good way to wrap up a conversation and help people summarize their opinions of the book is to ask each person to rate the book on a scale of one to five.

Tip: When writing your own book club discussion questions, avoid questions that are too general, like "What did you think of the book?" Also avoid questions that have yes or no answers. You want to ask questions that are open ended and help people talk about themes and how the book relates to deeper issues.

 (Adapted from http://bestsellers.about.com/od/bookclubresources/ht/how_lead_talk.htm?p=1)