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Lesson Plan

Book Report Alternative: A Character's Letter to the Editor

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Book Report Alternative: A Character's Letter to the Editor

Grades 6 – 8
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Four 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Interactives






Persuasion Map

Grades   3 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Organizing & Summarizing

Persuasion Map

The Persuasion Map is an interactive graphic organizer that enables students to map out their arguments for a persuasive essay or debate.


Letter Generator

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Letter Generator

The Letter Generator is a useful tool for students to learn the parts of a business or friendly letter and then compose and print letters for both styles of correspondence.


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  • Before this lesson, students will read a book independently, in literature circles, or as a whole class.

  • Ask students to bring copies of the book that will be the focus of their comic strips to class for reference.

  • Choose a book that students are familiar with to demonstrate the process of writing a letter to the editor from a character’s point of view. The examples in this lesson are based on Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot, but any novel that students are familiar with will work. Other possibilities include the following:

    • A letter that Harry Potter writes to The Daily Prophet to correct misreported information or state an opinion on Ministry actions in relationship to any of the books in the Harry Potter series.

    • The letter that Byron Watson, from Christopher Paul Curtis’ The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, writes to the newspaper in support of the civil rights movement after the church bombing.

    • A letter that Leo Borlock, from Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl, writes to the newspaper about bullying and peer pressure in schools.

    • The letter that Stanley Yelnats, from Louis Sachar’s Holes, writes to the newspaper arguing for the reform of the juvenile correction system.

  • Arrange for copies of the editorial section of current issues of local, regional, or national newspapers for the classroom. Each student should have a newspaper for this activity. You may ask each student to bring a newspaper from home. If computer access allows, you can also use online newspaper sites. In addition to local newspaper sites, you can use resources from the Newseum collection of Today’s Front Pages. From these front pages, you can navigate to the online sites for dozens of newspapers around the world.

  • Print copies of the Letter to the Editor Worksheet, Persuasion Map Planning Sheet, and Letter to the Editor Peer Review Questions.

  • If desired, make copies or an overhead transparency of the Example Letter to the Editor Worksheet, Persuasion Map for Hoot, and the Sample Letter to the Editor for Hoot.

  • Review the guidelines for composing letters to the editor listed in the Website section, and determine which are appropriate for your class. These guidelines can be used as additional resources or read and reviewed in the class, depending upon the level of support students need.

  • Test the Letter Generator and Persuasion Map on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tools and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

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