Independent Reading Book Selection

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SWBAT inform their selection of a novel by listening to book talks, browsing book selections, and reading reviews online.

Big Idea

Reading longer works supports a reader's identity.

Extending reading with choice books

Why extend reading?  In this section, I wish to offer a rationale (video explanation link) in support of introducing students to book-length choice reading.  Such an approach, if done carefully, helps students to reinforce the Common Core skills of tracing character (RL.9-10.3) and theme (RL.9-10.2) development over a longer, complex text (RL.9-10.10); such an approach also fosters the reader’s identity, which is a key aspect of literacy.   In this unit, students will trace character and theme developments and explain the significance of narrative events over a longer story line, which will be exiting to watch unfold. 


Inspirations.  I've been influenced in this lesson by some great methods books that I have to recommend to you!

You Gotta BE the Book

Reading Don’t Fix No Chevy’s

Reading for Understanding


We need you!  What pedagogy or thought books have influenced you?  I'd love to hear about it if you wish to leave that in the comments.





**The image is of a young reader, under creative commons licensing from Wikimedia. 

Reading Choice and Abe Lincoln

15 minutes

Choice books.  How you involved choice in your classroom?  Especially at the high school level, this can be a challenge and an opportunity.  

In order for students to gain satisfaction in selecting their books, I offer them the chance to select from a list such as the Abe Lincoln list (link), but there are other lists that I have used (link). For example, for a student who is a science fiction buff, I would suggest something off of the Hugo Award winners list.


Online resources.  I've suggested two good links here, but there are many more.  Please join in and suggest any quality links that we can all use!  




Resources for Student Choice

15 minutes

Reading online reviews.  In addition to having one of the librarians provide a short book talk summary/teaser for each of the books on the Abe Lincoln list (SL.9-10.1), I ask students to read and objectively summarize the editorial reviews on both and (RI.9-10.2).  This year, I have not yet had students create a bookshelf on, but I do plan to do so on a future lesson.  Such an exercise helps them curate their own reviews of books that they have read and plan to read (RL.9-10.10).  Again, the idea is to reinforce the sense of accomplishment and readerly identity.  

Thus, during this part of the class, we are in workshop mode, as students are browsing books and reading reviews online (beware of spoiler alerts, though!).  I plan to have students circulating throughout the library to select their books and then a station with a bank of computers available for them to read reviews of the books that have their interest.  I typically do require this type of review reading, but today I will not be in class because I will be out at a conference, so I am leaving this to the librarians who are going to guest lecture for me. 

Beginning the Novel

10 minutes

I offer the last 5-10 minutes of class as a chance for students to begin reading their books, and I circulate among them to ask questions of initial comprehension (RL.9-10.1):

1.) What is the world of the story like?

2.) What obstacles or desires does  your character have?

3.) Who or what seems to be getting in their way?


I also read aloud to students and have them read aloud to me.  The reason is that I am looking for an informal diagnostic that would help me to see if they are accessing the world of the text well enough or if they are becoming disoriented already.  I find that this moment, the moment of entering the story's world is the second most precarious point of access, the first of which being the simple act of getting a book and checking it out.  Once a student enters the story world successfully and begins to bond with the character in question, the next steps in the story--of tracing the development of character, theme, and plot--typically go much more smoothly.