Reading Group Resources

Reading Group Resources for Chapters and Reading Group Coordinators

This page is attended to serve as a resource for people interested in starting a reading group program or starting an individual reading group. If you’re interested in starting a reading group in the Metro DC area or if you have more questions about MDCDSA’s experience running a reading group, please reach out to us at – we’d love to see how we can work with you!

This resource on reading groups includes:

  • Sample Community Guidelines
  • Facilitation Tools
  • Outlines from Previous Reading Groups

Please note that reading groups are just one of several different forms of political education in the Chapter. You can find out more about our Socialist Night School program here and information about walking tours is forthcoming. We also hold regular book exchanges and other one-off events, which will be listed on the chapter calendar.

Community Guidelines

Typically, our reading groups discuss and agree upon a set of community guidelines that all reading group members will uphold throughout the group. Holding members accountable for the community guidelines should be the responsibility of everyone in the group, so it’s important that all members feel ownership of the guidelines. While some groups built their guidelines from scratch, most groups find it easier to start with existing guidelines, such as the guidelines for your chapter. Links to a few examples are provided below.

Facilitation Tools

Our reading groups typically practice rotating facilitation (although this may vary depending on the needs of the group). Therefore, each session of the reading group is typically hosted by a different group member. This rotating facilitation model aims to do a few things: encourage community ownership of the group; encourage leadership by different voices; and build facilitation skills among all group members. The aim is that facilitation skills built in reading groups will build the capacity of members to engage in conversations about these issues among their own networks and to facilitate conversations in other organizing work. 

MDCDSA typically holds a facilitation training for reading groups at the beginning of each reading group session: notes from a session and tools for facilitators are linked below.

Previous Reading Groups

We try to make sure that reading groups are responsive to the interests and organizing work of our chapter and communities. Many of the groups noted below were developed in collaboration with working groups and priority campaigns in MDCDSA, including the Socialist Feminist section; Ecosocialism/WePower DC, which organizes for publicly-owned utilities in the District, and Stomp Out Slumlords, which fights evictions and builds tenant power. The reading groups served as a way for members to get to know each other and their beliefs, recruit new members, and build the understanding of existing members. 

Generally, we try to treat reading group schedules as more of a rough guideline of what to expect, rather than a rigid calendar. We also recognize that the implementation of reading groups is always adapting and improving, and part of the role of a facilitator is to make sure the calendar and pacing are brought up during early meetings of the reading group. With this in mind, the schedules provided below are intended to support the design of your own reading groups, rather than serve as a one-size-fits all model.

Spring 2021 Capital in the Capitol Reading Groups

Fall 2021 Reading Groups

Winter 2021 Reading Clubs*

*Note: The Winter 2021 reading clubs were an experiment with a shorter four-week reading group program. While the short-form, lower-commitment format was successful, we would recommend implementing it in the Summer, rather than the Winter (a Winter implementation required planning/recruiting for both the Winter and Spring groups at the same time and during end-of-the-years busyness).

Spring 2022 Reading Groups

Summer 2022 Reading Groups

Fall 2022 Reading Groups

Spring 2023 Reading Groups:

  • These groups are currently ongoing; please see the descriptions here.

Blank reading group outline: