Over the past school year I’ve been trying to come up with new and fun ways to engage our students in different types of books. I’ve learned that third through fifth graders can either fall into two different stages as a reader: excited to read as many books as they can OR won’t even pick up a book…there’s rarely an in between.
I noticed that our avid readers will typically only read one genre, or style, of a book. They end up limiting themselves when they could very well end up loving multiple different genres.
One of the things that I started introducing into a few different classrooms was First Chapter Fridays. Teachers were coming to me asking for ideas that they could use in their rooms to help expose students to new books and authors, but also just get them excited for the possibility of a great book. This is a quick, but effective way to hook kids on multiple books in a short amount of time.
The first thing I did was to gather about five or six different grade appropriate books, ranging in all different levels and genres. After talking with the teacher, we determined the our goal was simply exposure. Exposure to new authors, exposure to different genres, and exposure to how to give a book a chance.
I had all the students come sit on the carpet with a notebook and pencil. Their task was to write down any questions or reactions they had as I introduced each book. My hope was that they could refer back to their notes later on to see which books caught their attention.
I introduced each book by first displaying the cover of each book and then having a conversation about the genre would be. Then I read out loud the first chapter. SIMPLE AS THAT. Kids are so used to just looking at the cover of a book to see if they like it, that they rarely ever open it to read a little to find out if they would like it.
By reading the first chapter out loud, students are able to get introduced to some of the characters and are given a foundation for the story. Usually, the chapter ends with some sort of cliffhanger or abrupt scene, that now, the kids are hooked and are dying to know what happens next.
As I’m reading, they are taking their notes and when I finish with all the books, I give them a minute to rank the books. If there is a student that is just dying to keep reading a certain book, I just give it to him/her right then. Building off of the momentum will keep that reader engaged.
One of my secrets when picking out the books….I try to find books that are either the first in a series or by an author that has many other books. My hope is that once they finish reading the first book, they’ll want to keep going and read others that are similar.
Do you have other ways of implementing First Chapter Fridays? I’m always looking for new ideas!