Reading Matters

September 2013

Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report

According to Diana Mitchell in her NCTE article: "Students tire of responding to novels in the same ways. They want new ways to think about a piece of literature and new ways to dig into it. It is hoped that this diverse group of suggestions will whet the interest of students in exploring new directions and in responding with greater depth to the books they read." See her suggestions here:

20 Literature Response Questions for Any Book

Here are 20 interesting literature response questions to use while discussing books with students or to use as writing prompts.

  1. What is the most interesting thing you know about the main character of your book?
  2. Think about a setting in your book. If you were in the setting, what are some things you might see?
  3. Describe an important event from your book and tell why it is important.
  4. Who is your favorite character in your book? Why is this character your favorite?
  5. What do you think happened just before your story started?
  6. If you could give the main character in your book some advice, what would you tell him or her?
  7. Is your book more funny or more serious? Why do you think so?
  8. What point of view is your book written in? How do you know?
  9. Do you like the main character of your book? Why or why not?
  10. Think of an important event in your book. How would the story have changed if this event had not happened?
  11. If you were in the story, what would your relationship be to the main character?
  12. List three facts about this book. Then list three opinions about it.
  13. If you could ask the main character of this book three questions, what would you ask?
  14. Think about your book. Then finish this sentence in 3 different ways: I wonder....
  15. Think of a new title for your book. Why do you think this is a good title?
  16. Do you think this book was well written? Why or why not?
  17. In what ways would this book be different if it were set 100 years in the past?
  18. What is the main conflict that the main character in your book must face?
  19. What are some important relationships in your book?
  20. Think about a supporting character in your book. How would the book be different if that character did not exist?

This is from Rachel Lynette's blog, Minds in Bloom. She has also made literature response cards, for both fiction and informational text aligned with Common Core, that you can read more about here.

"Somebody Wanted But So Then"

SWBST is a graphic organizer used to summarize a narrative. Students could use post-it notes to fill in the squares.

Ways to Promote Reading with Big Huge Labs

Big Huge Labs is an amazing site with tons of possibilities for promoting reading! Here are some ways you could use this site in your classroom:

1. Cube: Upload six images (scenes from a book) to make a cube

2. Motivator: Define vocabulary words from a book in the form of a motivational posters.

3. Trading Cards: Create trading cards for characters in a book.

4. Magazine Cover: Upload a book cover picture and have students write article headings to accompany it.

5. Captioner: Create a comic strip by adding speech and thought bubbles to pictures.

6. Movie Poster: Design a movie poster for a book they've read and have them write the actors (book characters) and credits.

There is also an educator account which allows you to use the site without ads and allows students to sign in without an email address!


LitCharts is a new, free alternative to CliffsNotes or SparkNotes. Literature guides are in printable PDF format, and they provide chapter summaries and analyses of the characters and themes, as well as quotes from the books. There are charts for The Outsiders, The Giver, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc.

Reading Log Responses

Here are some reading log responses:

Below is another idea!

What Kids are Reading

For the 5th year, Renaissance Learning (AR) has studied the reading habits of students across the nation to see what they're reading. Interesting stuff! To see the full report, click here:

Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food (Noteworthy Non-Fiction)

Each month, I will spotlight a high-interest non-fiction book that you could use with your students. Chew On This is a cringe-worthy book about the fast-food industry. Why not get students thinking about eating healthy at the start of a new school year?! The publisher has provided a Teacher's Guide for using this book in the classroom, and it has some fantastic lesson ideas!

Scholastic Book Fair

Monday, Oct. 7th, 7:45am to Friday, Oct. 11th, 3:45pm

Media Center

Hope to see you all!

Have a Restful Labor Day Weekend!