Book Boxes

Instructional Strategy #5

What is a book box?

A book box is a collection of objects and pictures related to a particular story or informational book. Book boxes can be used by students in order to explain a book they have read. They can also be used by teachers as a way to introduce a book to students. This strategy can be used for all grade levels, as well as English Language Learners. Students can create a book box individually or work together in small groups to create a book box.

Why use book boxes?

Book boxes are visual representations that enhance students' comprehension of books they're reading. Students refine their understanding as they create a book box and select important objects and pictures to include, and when teachers share book boxes that they've made before students read, they are able to build students' background knowledge and introduce key vocabulary in order to prepare them to read a book.

Scaffolding English Learners:

Teachers often use book boxes with English learners because they can teach vocabulary and build background knowledge with the objects in the boxes. As students handle and discuss the objects, they become familiar with the words and learn how to use them correctly in sentences. This practices helps make the reading experience more successful.

How to Use a Book Box:

  1. Read the book. As students read or reread a book, they make a list of important objects mentioned in it that they might want to include in a book box.
  2. Choose a container. Students choose a box, basket, plastic tub, or other container to hold the objects, and they decorate it with the name of the book or the topic and related pictures and words.
  3. Fill the book box. Students place at least three to five objects and pictures in the box along with a copy of the book. They might also include an inventory sheet with all the items listed and an explanation of why each object was chosen.
  4. Share the completed box. Students share their book boxes with classmates, showing each item in the box and explaining why it was included.
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When to use book boxes...

  • Author Boxes: When students are studying favorite authors, they can make a box with collections of the author's books, biographical information about the author, and a letter the student wrote to the author.
  • Autobiography Boxes: Students can collect objects and pictures that represent each year in their lives and place them in a box that they've decorated.
  • Poetry Boxes: Students can collect objects and pictures that represent a favorite poem and place them in a decorated box along with a copy of the poem.
  • Bio Boxes: After reading a biography, students can collect objects and pictures related to the person and place them in a box or other container.
  • Theme Boxes: As part of a thematic unit, students can collect objects, pictures, and books related to the theme and place them in a decorated box.


  • Students comprehend grade-appropriate fiction and nonfiction books.
  • Students determine the structure of stories and main ideas and details in nonfiction texts.
  • Students interpret visual information.
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