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Lesson Plan

I Remember That Book: Rereading as a Critical Investigation

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I Remember That Book: Rereading as a Critical Investigation

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Seven 45-minute sessions, plus additional writing time
Lesson Author

Tom Lynch

New York, New York


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1: Bookish Memories

Session 2: Maps of Readership

Session 3: Rather than Reading

Session 4: Enjoyable Reading

Session 5: Rereading Day

Session 6: Writing about Rereading

Session 7: Beginning Writing about Rereading

Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Explore critically their past experiences as readers in order to articulate who they are currently as readers

  • Develop a rounded sense of their identities as readers by critiquing not only their reading experiences, but also their experiences as nonreaders

  • Employ various writing techniques to represent their reading experiences

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Session 1: Bookish Memories

1. Ask students to write freely about their memories of reading. You may consider using this prompt: What is your earliest memory of reading? Encourage them to be honest, even if some of what they recall is not positive.

2. As a whole class, ask students to share with each other some of the memories they have described. This helps students hear from each other both the similarities and differences in their reading experiences.

3. Before you begin the discussion, call on two volunteers to create a visual representation (pictures, notes, graphs, charts, or even doodles) of their classmates' responses on chart paper labeled Remembering Reading. Note: You can keep these up on the walls around the classroom as a process reminder for the remaining sessions.

4. Have students get into small groups to discuss patterns they see in the class's responses. For example, many students refer to their families when remembering reading experiences (parents reading to them or siblings sharing books).

5. After some time for discussion, ask a member of each group to report back to the class what patterns they noticed. Write these patterns on another piece of chart paper labeled Readers' Memories. Note: This subtle distinction between the act of reading and the readers themselves is important. One goal of the project is to draw attention and explore individual readers' experiences.

Homework (due at the beginning of Session 2): Ask students to brainstorm a list of as many books that they have read over the entire course of their lives as they can think of. Students may list picture books or comic books, so you should decide if nontraditional books are welcome. If you do, you may choose to ask students to explain their choices.

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Session 2: Maps of Readership

1. Review the work done in Session 1 and the lists students developed for homework. You may want to ask a question like, "What kinds of memories do we all have about reading?"

2. It is important to allow students the chance to remember their long histories as readers and to see just how much they have read over time. This helps them get a sense of how they have grown and changed as readers. One way to do this is to have them use the online Graphic Map to plot which books they have read and at what grade level from preschool to their current grade.

If computers are not available, you can have students complete this map on paper. You might ask students to not only write the titles and authors of the books, but to create simple and colorful images that help them recall what the books were about.

3. After students have completed and printed their graphic maps, ask them these questions: What does your map tell you about who you are as a reader? How have you changed as a reader over time?

4. Ask a student volunteer to post classmates' responses on chart paper, adding to the collection of thoughts and reflections already on the wall.

Homework (due at the beginning of Session 3): If students have not finalized their maps they should do so for homework. These final versions can be displayed around the room, or even shared and explored together in a follow-up class activity.

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Session 3: Rather than Reading

1. Ask students to close their eyes and imagine themselves reading. Then ask them to imagine the activities they would rather be doing than reading.

2. Using a blank piece of paper and colored pencils, ask students to draw-using no words-what they would like to do rather than reading.

3. After students have had time to complete this task, ask them to form small groups of three or four and to exchange their drawings. Give students time to look at their peers' drawings and then ask each student to share what he or she sees.

4. Discuss as a whole class the different things they would rather be doing than reading and why.

The pictures students draw can be displayed in the classroom, and might perhaps lend themselves to a Gallery Walk, in which students view each other's images and take notes about similarities and differences between what classmates do when not reading.

Homework (due at the beginning of Session 4): Ask students to make a list of 10 books they remember reading or being read to them and rank those books from 1 to 10 in order of enjoyment, with one being the most enjoyable or fond memory.

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Session 4: Enjoyable Reading

1. Ask students to share their lists from homework with a partner. After both partners have shared, ask them to explain to each other why they ranked their number one book so highly.

2. Call on a few volunteers to share with the class their top choices and reasons for selecting them. You may wish to record some of their choices and reasons on the board.

3. After this initial response, ask students to write this question on the top of a piece of paper and to write a brief paragraph reply: What makes a reading experience enjoyable? After a few minutes, ask students to exchange their responses with their partners. The partners, after silently reading through the reply, write their own responses to both the question and first response. You may repeat this silent dialogue many times, and even vary it by having groups exchange with other groups.

4. When students have had enough time to reply several times, ask the class to discuss their responses to this question, recording their replies on poster paper.

Homework (due at the beginning of Session 5): Ask students to get a copy of their number one book. Be sure to ask them not to open the book until they bring them to class, when each student will open his or her book together. You may want to give this assignment for over a weekend, and give specific suggestions about how to get the book if you think students will have trouble (for example, using an online library catalogue).

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Session 5: Rereading Day

1. Before students open their books, ask them to write as much as they can recall about their original reading of the book. Questions for them to consider include:
  • Where were you when you read the book? (What were the colors of the room, the sounds, the smells? Why were you there?)

  • What was happening in your life at the time? (Were you away from home? Were there any family troubles? Was there a significant event in your life or the world?)

  • What did the book look and feel like? (This description might include the cover of the book, the author, the pictures or characters, the basic plot, and the texture or scent of the book.)

  • Why do you think this book came to mind to reread?
You might want to give as much as half a class period for this activity.

2. After students have had sufficient time for remembering and recording their previous readings, ask them to take out their rereading books. You might ask students to open their books at the same time; this can be an effective ceremony that builds a certain shared experience.

3. Direct students to begin rereading their books for the remaining of the class time.

Homework (due at the beginning of Session 6): Students should finish reading their books, or if their selections are longer, should establish a schedule for completing them.

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Session 6: Writing about Rereading

1. Ask students to share with a partner how it felt to be rereading their books. They may want to use the writing they did during Session 5 to compare their memories of the first reading with their rereading as there are often discrepancies, which can spark interesting conversations about memories.

2. Distribute Student Model Rereading Essay #1 and Student Model Rereading Essay #2. Select one to read aloud with students.

3. After reading it, ask students to identify how the writer went about crafting this essay. What kinds of details were included? Begin making a list of characteristics of this type of essay on chart paper.

Homework (due at the beginning of Session 7): Have students read through the second model essay and continue taking notes on the questions posed in class about how the essays were written.

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Session 7: Beginning Writing about Rereading

1. Working as a class, create a list of characteristics that make up the "rereading essay." A rereading essay might:
  • Describe in detail the setting of reading

  • Paint a picture of the cover of the book

  • Reflect on the reader's personal life at the time of reading

  • Explore how the reader changes over time
2. Next, ask the class to create a question that the model essays seem to be answering. An example of this kind of question might include: What does rereading teach us about ourselves as readers? Work with students to choose a question that they can use to help guide their own rereading essays.

3. Give students time to begin writing in class about their initial reading of the book. You might start by having students describe in as much detail as possible the place in which they first read the book.

Final Essay Writing and Discussion

Students should write essays similar to the sample essays. Use writing workshop models you are familiar with to guide students in the writing of their essays. Along the way, be sure to have class time for sharing experiences and for exploring tougher questions such as:

  • Do we always enjoy reading?

  • How do we read differently for pleasure and for school?

  • Why do we have to read at all?

  • Does school make you want to be readers?

Encourage students to be honest with you and themselves about their memories and rereading experience. This can give students a platform for expressing experiences and feelings that affect whether or not they open books at all. Note: Models for writing workshops and discussion-based classes can be found in Bridging English by Joseph O. Milner and Lucy F. Milner and In the Middle: New Understandings About Writing, Reading, and Learning by Nancie Atwell.

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In addition to checking studentsí homework assignments for completion and observing their participation in classroom activities, you can use a rubric to assess drafts and the final rereading essay. Working with your students to create a rubric is the most effective way to develop a good evaluative instrument. You might use the Sample Rereading Essay Rubric as a starting point with your students; project if from a computer or overhead and ask them in what ways it fairly assesses the work in your class and what might be missing from it. This sample rubric focuses on diction and detail but you might also weave into your rubric some of the writing skills that your students might be expected to master in your course as per department, district, or state standards.

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