Skip to contentContribute to ReadWriteThink / RSS / FAQs / Site Demonstrations / Contact Us / About Us



Contribute to ReadWriteThink

ReadWriteThink couldn't publish all of this great content without literacy experts to write and review for us. If you've got lessons plans, videos, activities, or other ideas you'd like to contribute, we'd love to hear from you.



Professional Development

Find the latest in professional publications, learn new techniques and strategies, and find out how you can connect with other literacy professionals.



Did You Know?

Your students can save their work with Student Interactives.

More more

HomeClassroom ResourcesLesson Plans

Lesson Plan

Choosing the Right Book: Strategies for Beginning Readers

E-mail / Share / Print This Page / Print All Materials (Note: Handouts must be printed separately)


Choosing the Right Book: Strategies for Beginning Readers

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Recurring Lesson
Estimated Time Five 20- to 40-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Julie Burchstead

Sandy, Oregon


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1 (30 to 40 minutes): Finding out what students do when choosing books

Session 2 (20 minutes): Reading and thinking aloud to create vocabulary connections

Session 3 (30 to 40 minutes): Modeling how readers choose a text

Session 4 (40 minutes): Establishing a purpose for reading

Session 5 (30 to 40 minutes): Applying a purpose and the "Goldilocks Rule" to book choice

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Develop an understanding, through teacher modeling and whole-class discussion, that readers make decisions when choosing which books to read

  • Learn to think aloud about the appropriateness of a text by observing teacher modeling

  • Apply what they have learned by picking a reason for reading, selecting a book, and sharing their reasons for choosing the text with a partner and/or the entire class

back to top


Session 1 (30 to 40 minutes): Finding out what students do when choosing books

1. Give students five minutes to browse the book tubs and choose books. Have them put their choices into their individual boxes for independent reading.

You may want to limit choices for struggling or nonreaders to a narrower range of books including wordless books, board books with few words, known patterned text or song books, or books you know are appropriately leveled to provide a greater opportunity for success. Direct more advanced readers to the chapter-book tub to broaden their browsing choices.

2. Allow students five to ten minutes to read their books.

3. Have students bring their books to circle time.

4. With students in a circle, discuss the following questions:
  • What about the book you chose helped you decide to choose it?

  • Did you like your book or not? Why?

  • Was your book one you want to keep reading? Was it just right? Why or why not?
5. Write student responses on chart paper during this discussion. Review and discuss them, pointing out that everyone makes errors when choosing books: It's okay to make a mistake. We can just put the book back and try again. Explain that the right book for one person may not be the right book for someone else.

6. Share that there are things students can do to help insure the book is a good one for them. When readers ask certain questions before they choose a book, they can find "just the right book" more often. The two important questions students should remember are:
  • What is my purpose for reading today?

  • Based on that purpose, is this the right book for me?
Show students the What Readers Ask poster, and hang it up where they can see it.

Note: With larger classes, Kagan's Think, Pair, Share cooperative learning strategy may help more students share more effectively in less time. (Students need to have experience with this strategy prior to the lesson so learning it won't distract them from this lesson's objectives.) To use a modified version of this strategy:

  • Match each student with a buddy. Students alternate being the sharer and the listener for each question.

  • Pose the thinking question. Allow at least 10 seconds of think time.

  • Have the first partner share his or her answer using the modeled answer structure. For example: "I chose my book because __________." Listener gives feedback by saying "Thank you (partner's name), you chose your book because (restates partner's purpose)." Students then switch roles.

After all students get to share their responses, ask for a few volunteers to share theirs with the whole group.

back to top


Session 2 (20 minutes): Reading and thinking aloud to create vocabulary connections

1. Tell students that you will be reading a story that is an old friend, explaining that readers often reread books they have enjoyed before. Let them know they need to listen for a pattern in the story. Something will happen over and over. Later they will learn to use the pattern to help choose a book that is "just right" to read.

2. Read aloud Goldilocks and The Three Bears by Jan Brett, pausing at each think aloud. Be sure to turn the book facedown when you pause so students know you are sharing your thinking, not part of the story. Invite a few students to discuss their connections to your thinking during the pauses. (Use discretion. Too much discussion will cause the story to lose momentum and focus.) Have students make the hand motions they developed during the prior reading for the patterned responses of Goldilocks (see Preparation, Step 2). Connecting body movement with learning often enhances it, particularly for exceptional learners.

Note: If you have more time, you may choose to combine Sessions 2 and 3 (see the Goldilocks and the Three Bears Think Aloud sheet).

back to top


Session 3 (30 to 40 minutes): Modeling how readers choose a text

1. Discuss the sample purposes you have prepared (see Preparation, Step 4) and show students the three books you have selected for each purpose.

2. Ask students to help you choose just the right book for each purpose. Hold up each book and discuss whether they think it might be too easy or too hard and why. Students may not agree; be sure to point out that this is OK and to record individual rationales. After students have developed a consensus opinion, label the books with sticky notes. (Remember that this step might be more appropriately done in guided reading groups so the three books may be more closely linked to individual students' reading level range. See Preparation, Step 4.)

3. Show students the Is This the Right Book for Me? poster and model the "Goldilocks" and "Five-Finger" rules using one of the books you just showed them. Leave the poster up for future reference.

4. Ask a few students to demonstrate either rule by applying it to the books they have chosen. Provide supportive feedback.

back to top


Session 4 (40 minutes): Establishing a purpose for reading

1. Tell students they are going to learn how to establish a purpose for their reading. When readers set a purpose for reading they can more easily decide whether a book is "just right."

2. Gather students in a group in front of chart paper for recording responses. Brainstorm and record different purposes a reader might have for reading. Examples might include:
  • To learn how to do something.

  • To locate something funny,

  • To read a story by a favorite author,

  • To learn facts about something they wonder about, or

  • To have fun.
Save the chart for later reference.

3. Have students think about which reading purpose appeals most to them and why and then share their choice with a partner.

4. Distribute copies of the Purpose for Reading worksheet.

5. Students should fill in their sheets and save them for Session 5.

back to top


Session 5 (30 to 40 minutes): Applying a purpose and the "Goldilocks Rule" to book choice

1. Have students review what they wrote on their Purpose for Reading worksheet.

2. Remind them how to use the "Goldilocks" and "Five-Finger" rules, referring to the Is This the Right Book for Me? poster. If it is appropriate for your students and library set-up, explain to them the reading level range they might look for.

3. Allow students time to browse for books to read that fit their individual purposes and seem just right.

4. Give students time to read their choices.

5. Talk with students as they work, answering questions, giving feedback, and testing results of the process. Some questions to ask might include:
  • Which rule did you try? Show me how you did it.

  • Did it help you? How?

  • Was your book just right for your purpose for reading this time or not? Why do you think so?

  • Did you want to keep reading this book or not? Why?

back to top




  • Following the next independent reading time, during whole-class circle time or meetings of guided-reading groups, discuss and chart what the students have learned about how to select books. Allow them to share their selected books and their reading purposes and discuss how the strategies worked for them. Reteach strategies and give supportive feedback as needed.

  • When you feel students have had ample opportunities to practice this method, you might also have them periodically fill out the Was This the Right Book for Me? worksheet to monitor how things are going.

  • During independent reading time, monitor student selections by talking to individual students about the books they have chosen, how they used the strategies you showed them, how the strategies worked for them, and how they may need to refine them.


back to top