What is a reading circle?

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People who are learning to read need to be encouraged to continue using and developing their new skills.


Reading circles are one way to promote literacy use among new readers. They also encourage participants to think about relevant topics or problems and to study and solve them themselves.


Here are some purposes of a reading circle:

  • To establish a reading habit
  • To promote reading fluency and comprehension
  • To provide a social context for promoting literacy
  • To teach readers to find information in printed text
  • To promote community development
  • To provide a context for discussion and problem solving
  • To provide writing practice by

    • recording research findings
    • writing letters of request or complaint to officials, or
    • preparing public information.

The idea of reading circles is often credited to Paulo Freire. Freire developed "culture circles," or problem-solving study groups to guide discussion and learning experiences.


The Freire instructional program


A reading circle is a group that meets to research and discuss a particular problem.


Also known as:

  • study circle
  • critical literacy
  • culture circle

Here are some features of a reading circle:

  • Chooses and discusses a subject which is based on the real needs or problems of the community, such as

    • agriculture
    • health
    • technical skills
    • industrial concerns, or
    • spiritual matters.
  • Needs access to a good supply of materials on a variety of topics that the group might choose to research
  • Should have a leader, or facilitator to

    • help with reading

    • explain new words, and
    • encourage dialogue.
See also

See the following online articles for more information:


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Page content last modified: 16 September 1999

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