Standard Lesson

Authentic Persuasive Writing to Promote Summer Reading

9 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Five 50-minute sessions
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Devote time during your last weeks of school to promote summer reading by inviting students to create brochures and flyers that suggest books and genres to explore during the summer months. Students first work in small groups to examine a variety of booklists, synthesizing the attributes of effective booklists. Next, students determine a focal point (genre, topic, etc.) for their booklists and gather appropriate information. Finally, students examine an example of persuasive writing, considering audience and purpose. They then write text for their booklist fliers or brochures, with audience and purpose in mind.

You can customize the lesson, if desired, to promote reading any time of the year.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Gloria Pipkin explains in her Notes Plus article, "Of course we want our students to read over the summer, but I've yet to be convinced that the typical summer reading assignment does much to extend love of reading or increase literary competence. There may be a handful of students who can't wait to tackle our scintillating assignments on their summer vacation, but for the most part, summer reading assignments are regarded as a plague and a pox, even by avid readers, who much prefer choosing their own books."

Rather than required readings, Pipkin suggests that we invite students to create their own summer reading opportunities, which they then share and promote within the classroom or school making summer reading projects into student-centered explorations.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Collected booklists, including online lists and reviews

  • Chart paper and markers

  • Library resources and access




  • Gather any summer reading lists available at your school or public library to use as resources for students during this lesson.

  • Arrange for library time for students, and coordinate the project with your school’s librarian.

  • Choose several relevant booklists from the ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association Website, and make copies or transparencies for students to use.

  • Obtain computer resources to display the IT’S ALIVE! @ your library® Web page from the ALA’s Website, or make copies or transparencies of the page to share with students.

  • Test the ReadWriteThink Printing Press interactive on your computers to familiarize yourself with the tool and ensure that you have the Flash plug-in installed. You can download the plug-in from the technical support page.

  • Choose the templates that will work best for your students’ work—brochures, flyers, or booklets. Adapt this lesson plan for the option you’ve chosen.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • determine the criteria for effective booklists.

  • brainstorm categories of books based on genres, themes, and specific authors.

  • identify books and readings that fit a specific category.

  • create persuasive brochures or flyers that promote the books they've identified.

Session One

  1. Divide students into small groups, and distribute the summer reading lists that you have collected to students, ideally ensuring that each group of students has both a simple reading list and a list with annotations and additional material. Lists from the ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association Website can be used.

  2. Ask the groups to examine the lists that they have from the perspective of readers looking for books to read over the summer (or for the time period or purpose that you’ve chosen). Invite students to share reactions to the lists in their groups. Circulate among groups answering questions and providing feedback while students work.

  3. After all your students have had a chance to examine the lists, ask each group to summarize their reactions into a list of pros and cons. Their goal is to identify the things that make a good booklist, one that is useful for a reader looking for books to read during the summer months (or the time period or purpose that you’ve chosen).

  4. As students finish their lists, have them post them in the classroom.

  5. Once all of the lists are posted, ask each group to present their findings to the class. By having a group member read the list to the class, you can ensure that neither handwriting nor reading speed will keep everyone in the class from being aware of the details that have been gathered.

  6. After all of the lists have been shared, ask students what the shared lists reveal about the qualities of a booklist. What do the lists tell us about what readers want to know when they are choosing books to read?

  7. As students share ideas, create a shared list of the criteria that they identify.

  8. Once this synthesis phase is complete, step back and read the new list of criteria that students have compiled.

  9. Invite students to revise or clarify any items on the list.

  10. Explain that students’ next project will be to create booklists of their own, which identify suggestions for summer reading. Share the parameters of the activity (e.g., timeline, specific kinds of books to include, and so on). Explain that they will use this list of criteria to shape the booklists that they create.

  11. Finally, for homework, ask students to brainstorm a list of categories of books that they know. Explain that the booklist they create can be focused on particular genres, themes, authors, time periods, and so forth. Their goal is to begin gathering possibilities for booklist collections.

Session Two

  1. Review the criteria for effective booklists that was created in the previous session. Make any additions, deletions or revisions as desired.

  2. Share details on the writing assignment that students will complete: individually or in small groups of two to three each, students will create a brochure or flyer that promotes a specific collection of books that will make for good summer reading (or fit the custom collection goal that you’ve established). Finished brochures or flyers will be shared with others in the class and available in the library for any student at the school who is interested in choosing books for summer reading.

  3. Briefly demonstrate the ReadWriteThink Printing Press for students. Your goal is simply to show students that they will be able to use the tool to create their finished product. Place students’ emphasis on thinking about the content for the brochures and flyers, as the Printing Press will make the process of making the final product a simpler one. Explain that you’ll return to the tool in a later session and provide more specific details on how it works.

  4. Answer any questions students have about the assignment; then, turn your attention to choosing categories for the booklists that students will create.

  5. Ask students to share the categories of books that they have brainstormed. This is a good chance to review genres, themes, and authors students have covered over the course of the year. If any large categories you’ve covered are missing, take advantage of the opportunity to remind students of the possibility. This collection of categories can be large and all-inclusive. You’re building a list of options for students to choose from.

  6. Manage the process of choosing focal points for booklists as appropriate for your class. Because there are so many books to choose from, it won’t matter if more than one group or student works on the same topic. Whatever method you use, students should be free to choose their own focal point for their booklists. Assigning booklists is no better than assigning the readings after all!

  7. Suggest that a good starting place is deciding whether the booklist topic needs to be further and how the topic is defined for the purposes of this project.

  8. Demonstrate the process of defining and narrowing a list by using one of the topics students have identified. For instance, a booklist topic such as detective mysteries, crime fiction, historical mysteries, and so on. Suggest the range of focal points students can choose by including narrowed topics such as women detectives, teen mysteries, mysteries about stolen art, unsolved mysteries, etc.

  9. Choosing a specific focus, narrow the idea further by suggesting specific hooks for the collection. For instance, for teen mysteries, the hook might be mysteries that occur during the summer months, such as Lois Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. Playing off that idea, the book collection might be titled, “I Know What You Read Last Summer: Great Suspense Novels.” Students do not need to choose an exact title at this point, but should be encouraged to think through the possibilities.

  10. Allow students the rest of the session to share ideas and get started on their project. By the end of the session, students should know what topic they will focus on and should have narrowed their topic as appropriate.

Session Three

  1. Review the project and answer any questions; then, ask students to work on gathering the information they will include in their booklists. Point to the list of criteria to remind students of the details that their brochures and flyers will need to include (e.g., book title, authors, short description, and so forth).

  2. If possible, free time to explore and collect resources in the library as well as using Internet resources is ideal during this class session.

  3. Circulate among students, answering questions and providing feedback and support.

  4. Repeat this session as many times as necessary for students to gather the details and resources for their project.

Session Four

  1. Introduce the characteristics of effective persuasive writing by displaying the IT’S ALIVE! @ your library® Web page again. Read the entire page aloud as students follow along.

  2. Ask students to identify the audience and purpose of the review. As students provide responses, record the information on the board or on chart paper.

  3. Next, ask students to explain how they were able to identify the audience and purpose of the piece. The following questions can aid the process:

    • What specific details in the review reveal the audience and purpose?

    • Are there specific words or phrases that reveal the audience?

    • Does the organization of the review reveal anything about the audience and purpose?
  4. Ask students to suggest why audience and purpose are important in persuasive writing. Why does a writer have to appeal to the reader? Students should be able to point to the evidence that they’ve gathered by looking at the IT’S ALIVE! page. Use their responses to emphasize the importance of audience and purpose in persuasive writing. Be sure that students understand that effective persuasive writing focuses on the needs, wants and desires of the audience. If students need additional work with persuasive writing, use the resources from The Basic Principles of Persuasive Writing.

  5. Once the role of audience and purpose are established, return to the criteria that the class established for effective booklists in Session One.

  6. Ask students to identify how effective the booklist is for its particular audience and purpose, based on your criteria. In particular, be sure that students note how the example makes use of the following strategies:

    • Provides relevant information on the books

    • Uses details and examples to match the books to the audience

    • Links individual books to the overarching theme or focus

    • Uses appropriate word choice for the theme, purpose, and audience

    • Opens with an attention-grabber to get the audience’s interest

    • Details the benefits of the individual books (why a reader would enjoy them)
  7. With the characteristics of persuasive writing established, students can begin drafting their notes into copy for their flyers and brochures.

  8. Share the layout templates with students so that they can begin connecting their drafts to the layout options available.

  9. Allow students to work on their drafts for the remainder of time during this session.

Session Five

  1. Demonstrate the Printing Press student interactive for students, showing the pertinent options.

  2. Ask students to print at least three copies of their work (one for themselves, one for you to respond to, and one for the school or public library). If class resources allow, additional copies can be made to share with interested students in the class.

  3. This will be a busy, active session so ensure that students understand the products they are to submit by the end of the class before releasing them to work on their final copies in their groups.

  4. Allow students the remainder of the class to print copies of their own pages for their booklets and flyers.

  5. If possible, schedule an additional class session where students can share their brochures or flyers with the class.


Student Assessment / Reflections

Feedback on students’ brochures or flyers should be based on the criteria that students establish in the first session of this project. By returning to the criteria throughout the lesson and in response to the final products, this lesson consistently establishes the student-centered nature of this activity. If desired, shape the criteria students establish into a checklist or rubric for more formal responses.

As students are the audience for the brochures and flyers that are created in this project, student readers can provide the most authentic feedback. Informal feedback from students who read the brochures or flyers and search out the related books are excellent for students. The activity has the power to show students how writing can have concrete results.

To facilitate student reactions to the finished project, ask groups and individuals to share their brochures or flyers. Listening students can be asked to respond to two questions:

  1. What book in your own brochure or flyer do you most look forward to reading this summer and why?

  2. What book in another brochure or flyer are you interested in reading this summer and why?
Len Milner
Curriculum Coordinator
What a timely lesson! I will make sure to share with the teachers at our high school.
Len Milner
Curriculum Coordinator
What a timely lesson! I will make sure to share with the teachers at our high school.
Len Milner
Curriculum Coordinator
What a timely lesson! I will make sure to share with the teachers at our high school.

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