Jun 20, 2022

A new resource for designing and running book studies

Brad Keller
Illustration of people reading while sitting on book shelves with oversized books.

A book study is like a book club, in that a group of people gather to discuss a book.  But there are a number of differences too.  For example, a book study is generally in a more formal setting, like work or a classroom.  In addition, book studies generally focus on one book, and take it slowly over a specified period of time. 

In the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE), the Office of Teaching and Learning's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Team is helping KDE employees run a series of book studies.  The goal is for each major division of KDE to operate its own book study, leading to open, honest, and thoughtful discussions among colleagues about issues related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.  After a period of several months, leaders from each book study group will make a presentation to DEIB and the other book study leaders about their group’s discussions, any insights, and what they learned from the process. 

Illustrations of people reading on a giant stack of books.

As part of our capacity building technical assistance, the Region 5 Comprehensive Center has worked with DEIB to develop a guide on designing and operating a book study.  It is designed to help KDE employees who may have never even participated in a book study (let alone run one) as they set up their book study group and navigate it through several months of reading and discussion.  The guide walks through topics like:

  • What size should your group be, and how do people join?
  • How often should you meet, and what are the expectations for reading between meetings?
  • How do you set norms for your meetings?
  • What roles should people take in the group, such as note taker or discussion lead?
  • How do you structure the discussions to increase the likelihood of respectful and thoughtful insights?

We hope you find this guide helpful if you’re planning your own book study.  Please feel free to use it as is, or modify it to meet your needs.  For more information and support, contact the Region 5 Comprehensive Center.