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Lesson Plan

Book Sorting: Using Observation and Comprehension to Categorize Books

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Book Sorting: Using Observation and Comprehension to Categorize Books

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 30-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English



Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice



This sorting activity addresses critical-thinking skills, observation and categorization processes, and reading comprehension and writing skills, while at the same time providing teachers with a vast array of diagnostics through observation of student interaction and conversation. Students work as a class to sort books, first according to their covers and then according to their topics. They explore whether books could be included in multiple categories and whether some groups could be broken down further. Next, students work with a partner to sort twelve books. They orally explain their sorting criteria, and then record in writing what categories they used and why. Students may also compare and contrast two books using an online Venn diagram.

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Venn Diagram: Students can use this interactive Venn diagram to compare and contrast elements of books they like to read.

Flood! Interactive Book Sorting Tool: Students can use this resource, from PBS Kids' Between the Lions, to sort books online.

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Students are asked to make comparisons in virtually all areas of the school curriculum. Observation and categorization are a basic part of the science process, and in math comparisons are made of shapes as well as quantities. In reading, we ask students to compare text content to their own experiences, to other texts, and to the world at large. According to Piaget, children of this age are still developing the ability to simultaneously consider two qualities, such as recognizing that an object may be smaller or bigger than other objects, or in this case, that a book might be similar to and different from other books. Having students observe details in illustrations and explain similarities of text and subject matter may help them see that a book might fit into more than one category, and also that categories can change. This can set the stage for later work in literature analysis, science process work, and mathematical understanding.

Further Reading

Piaget, Jean. 1970. Genetic Epistemology. Columbia University Press.


Ebbers, Margaretha. "Science Text Sets: Using Various Genres to Promote Literacy and Inquiry." Language Arts 80.1 (September 2002): 40-50.

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