EJK Award Book Discussion Guides

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Designed to be used with a selection of EJK Award and Honor books, the Discussion Guides provide specific examples of “themes” or “perspectives” that can be used to develop active and critical reading skills for children of all ages. They include questions and activities you can use to lead your group through enjoyable and thorough book based discussions.

Produced by a group of teachers, the lessons can be used equally well in schools, libraries, homes and with students in a multitude of settings.

Benefits of Discussion Questions and Activities

  • Build critical thinking skills
  • Enhance careful exploration of a book’s text, illustrations, and design
  • Focus attention on the choices that authors and illustrators make in creating their works
  • Introduce basic literary and artistic elements, and techniques
  • Develop connections between the events and characters in books and the readers’ lived experiences

Adapting the Book Discussion Guides for Children of All Ages

  • Younger children often depend on illustrations to understand the storyline, , but can then be guided into in depth discussions of a book’s meaning.
  • An important part of remote learning for younger children may be the involvement of their caregivers, an appointed “buddy”, or even an older child. If possible, include them early on so they understand how they can support the student before and after your time with them.
  • Some of the suggested activities require basic creative tools, such as paper, crayons, markers or colored pencils. Since you’ll be depending on what materials are available, this is a time for creativity.
  • Older kids are able to engage in more independent analysis of image and text and can participate in, and sometimes lead, online group discussions or serve as mentors to younger children.

Virtual Learning

The Book Discussion Guides were created for in-person and remote learning situations because of the Covid-19 crisis and are designed to be flexible. While many of us are new to the remote format, the kits are positioned to meet the needs of the newcomer as well as the expert. We hope you’ll be our partners as we continue to refine these kits.

Download Our Book Discussion Guides

The guide designers were especially excited about exploring the following themes in-depth because of their particular relevance and popularity. They also felt these themes could address issues much broader than those defined in a typical classroom curriculum.

Download All (pdf)

All Themes

The EJK Foundation has identified fourteen (14) themes for in-depth group discussions and activities. These themes were chosen because they reflect universal experiences and will therefore offer rich possibilities for animated student discussion.

Thank You

Thank you for the contributions of the following for their input and leadership on creating this toolkit:

  • Dr. Ramona Caponegro and 
  • Dr. Jacqueline LaRose, Eastern Michigan University

Participants from Estabrook Learning Community in Ypsilanti, Michigan:

  • Ryan Johnson
  • Kristen C. Rickman
  • Ashley Chrzaszcz
  • Donna McWilliams
  • Amanda Garner
  • Jessica Terlep
  • Keely Miller
  • Barb Baker
  • Shoshana DeMaria

Participants from Holmes Elementary School in Ypsilanti, Michigan:

  • Lavonda Jackson
  • Stephanie McKinney
  • Marlo E. Bearman
  • Debbie Swanson
  • Dawn Dennis
  • Jennifer Gray
  • Kimberly Barrett

Please send us your experience based tips so we can periodically update the materials. Email jmccarthy@ezra-jack-keats.org.