Hunting For Good Books!

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SWBAT recognize literature and informational text structure to help them select a book of interest.

Big Idea

So many choices of books! Understand the features so they can choose a good book!



  • Variety of books, including non-fiction, fiction, pleasure reading, information, various themes (Scholastic, Highlights or poetry books are great too to provide the students the variety of choices)-here's a picture of the books that I used
  • What's Inside a Good Book? powerpoint
  • 'Book Scavenger Hunt' worksheet
  • Ipads or cameras for the students to use in groups
  • Group Rules poster
  • iPad Rules
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: literature, informational text, text features
  • whiteboard set up

Let's Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall.. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words.


Engage the students

  • "Today we are going to hunt for some books based on text features."
  • "To show what you know after the hunt, you will use cameras/ipads to document what you found!  Let's take a quick look at this video to see/review how to take pictures with the iPad."


My kids LOVE using the iPads, but I take time early in the year to work with the class on a poster of "iPad Rules" to set up expectations (see Materials section).

Teachers' Turn

10 minutes

Review the ideas

  • "I brought some pictures of books and magazines that I have read.  I took pictures with my phone/ipad. Let's talk about how these reading materials are different and why I chose them to read.  Then you'll have a turn to take some pictures!"
  • "How do you choose a good book? (slide 1) Are some books just fun to read? We call these books literature. Examples are comic books or magazines?  What about books that help you learn? Your textbook or a books about real things is called informational text.
  • "Do you ever look inside the book to help decide if you like it? Do you look at the words, sentences or paragraphs? Books organize the words in certain ways. Words makes sentences that make paragraphs that make...." (slides 2-5)
  • "What about characters - are you interested in who is in the book?  Do you like to read about a certain setting?"  (slides 6-7)
  • "Do you look at the illustrations of a book? What about the plot? Would you consider the main idea or conflict in any of these books? What about the theme of the book? What do you think the genre of these books is?" (finish the slides)


My goal with this activity is not to teach the vocabulary, but to expose the kids to it and see what they know. I am focusing on the words 'literature', 'informational text', and 'text features'  so those I featured on my whiteboard at the beginning of the lesson, but the others are for exposure. I  want the kids to understand the idea that books differ in many ways and we need to be thoughtful about what we are looking for. Many times my students just grab a book off the shelf from the library and don't even look inside. I would like to see them make a more thoughtful choice and be more introspective about what books that they like and why.

As we examine the parts/structures of a book and how they relate to each other and the whole, (RL.2.5), it helps students make a good book choice. Exposing them to informational text also allows them to see some vocabulary (glossary, index) which they will use later (RI.2.5). Pay attention to what the kids can comment on (understand well) and what they don't have comments on - these are areas to reinforce.


Model the activity (use some of the more unfamiliar vocabulary-genre, theme, informational text, section)

  • "Now that we've talked about what the features of books can be, let me see if I can choose a book I like based on these features." Do a quick review of those on the board. Here's what my review of the text features looked like.
  • Choose a book from the floor and OPEN the book. "Let me take a minute to open this book and see. This book is informational text because it has facts. I think I'd like to read it. I'll take a picture with the iPad and cross off  'informational text'." (on your whiteboard)
  • Choose another book. "I'll look inside this book - I like the genre-mystery. I love to read and find out 'who is the guilty one'. I like this genre because I can guess." Cross off genre.


Guided practice (use some of the more unfamiliar vocabulary-genre, theme, informational text, section)

  • "Let's do two more together." Choose another book. "Let me look inside and see..." (MODEL this again - make sure kids understand they have to LOOK at the book for a few minutes)
  • "What could you say that you like about this book?" Take ideas that are reasonable.  "This book has different sections about kinds of weather. If I wanted to read about tornadoes, I could look in that section. I'd like to read this."
  • "Here's one more that has a theme about 'good vs evil' when the good llegos fight the bad llegos. I'll cross off theme." 

The Students Take a Turn

25 minutes

Explain the task**

  • "During your hunt today, you will look for books or magazines with the text features that we talked about. I spread out LOTS of books on the floor for you to look at."
  • "Take a look at the organizer on the board.  Look over the features-do you think you can find books with these features? I'm passing out a worksheet with the same features."
  • "We will be using (or sharing depending on the number of cameras/Ipads) the cameras to take pictures of the books."
  • (If you are sharing iPads), remember the rules for group work and how we use iPads." (Refer to the posters from the Materials sections)
  • "When you find a book with one of the elements on the worksheet, cross it off.  Try to get pictures of books with as many features as possible."
  • "You have 15 minutes to work with your partner - take turns taking pictures of the books. I'll give you a 1 minute warning.  When you're done you can share a few pictures with the class."


Monitor student work

  • Monitor sharing and progress. Are students able to identify informational text? Can they identify the genre of the book? This is GREAT formative assessment.
  • Make suggestions as needed. One student confused paragraph with chapter, but when we looked at his choice, it was clear that it was a chapter.
  • Give a one minute warning.
  • Here's a picture of a completed worksheet that was completed.


** The third time that I taught this lesson, I discussed the vocabulary with the kids. I realized they would not be independent finding the features themselves, so I changed up how we looked for them.

Each student chose 2 books and then I went through each feature - one by one. The kids circled or crossed off the feature on their worksheet if their books had them. Some kids shared if their book had that feature or not. It was a great chance for them to discuss why they chose their books and why they read. 

Apply What You Know

10 minutes


  • "Now we'll take turns coming up and showing a few pictures of books. Tell me which book you would choose and why. Try to use some of our new vocabulary - informational text, chapter, illustration..."  Let kids show a few pictures.  
  • Prompt kids with questions: 
    • "Is that book a good choice for you?"
    • "Do you like books with lots of characters?"
    • "Do you prefer fiction?"
    • "That setting is from a long time ago- do you choose books with stories from the past?"
    • "Those books have very positive happy themes - is that something that you prefer?"
    • " When you get a magazine, do you look inside to see if you can read it?"
  • This is a picture of a student choice about a section of the book she would like to read. She commented, "This chapter looked good because a boy once pulled my hair. I want to see what this girl did."
  • Another boy showed this illustration and commented that he likes to read these books because of the pictures by Eric Carle.


Review the ideas

  • "You did a great job today! From now on, when you choose books, look at the parts of the book. Before you grab it off the shelf, see if it has the elements that you like- good pictures, scary themes, literature, conflict..."
  • "If you choose books with elements that you like, you will probably enjoy it more and finish the book or magazine!"


Scaffolding and Special Education

It is feasible to use this with any level of students because you can use of the variety of reading materials. With my students who have language challenges or read better, I provided lots of materials, including below level, at level and above level.  

A "teachable moment" occurred when one of my students brought a book to me that was too difficult.  We talked about the pictures (that he liked) but looked at the amount of paragraphs, number of chapters and he read 1-2 sentences.  We decided together that he should continue to "hunt" for a good book that he could read.

For gifted students or those with a higher reading level, that discussion could be reversed.  Is it ok to pick an easier book?  You could discuss the book's purpose - maybe an easy book would be great for fun reading but a harder book at the student's level would be better for instruction.  Also, some genres are more difficult just because of their format (poetry, persuasive).