Standard Lesson

Developing Reading Plans to Support Independent Reading

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Three 50-minute sessions
  • Preview
  • |
  • Standards
  • |
  • Resources & Preparation
  • |
  • Instructional Plan
  • |
  • Related Resources
  • |
  • Comments


In this lesson, students brainstorm texts that they have read recently and map their choices using a Graphic Map to rate and make notes about them. Students then look for patterns connecting the texts that they enjoyed the most and those they enjoyed the least. Once they've analyzed their past readings, students complete a reading plan by first listing categories of books they want to read. They then use booklists, book reviews, and other resources to create a wish list of books they hope to read in the future.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

One of the greatest challenges of an independent reading program is keeping students reading. Katz et. al (2005) explain the predicament teachers frequently face:

"They are frustrated when students linger aimlessly at the bookshelf or book bins. They lose patience when a student finishes one book and loudly proclaims, ‘I'm done. I need another book.' Teachers find themselves becoming reading police, observing their students to catch someone who is not reading. And students don't seem to be accountable for their time, causing some parents and administrators to challenge teachers by suggesting that the students are ‘just sitting there reading'" (1)

Independent reading should be grounded in student choice, but without support in the process of selecting books, students can easily flounder. Regie Routman outlines key characteristics of scaffolded independent reading, including "Student chooses any book to read with teacher's guidance" and "Student reads ‘just-right' books." (85). By having students create reading plans, teachers can provide students with the guidance they need, pointing students toward the "just-right" books, as Routman suggests, and challenging them to try new genres and authors.

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.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Materials and Technology

Level-appropriate texts from a variety of genres, booklists, and similar resources




  • Gather books from a variety of genres and topics, booklists, and any available artifacts promoting books. The booklists at Teens: Books and More from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Teen Read Week provide a good starting point.

  • If students have completed book reports that can be shared, gather these resources as well, for students to use as suggestions for future reading.

  • Make copies or an overhead transparency of the Reading Plan Chart.

  • If desired, complete the ReadWriteThink lesson Developing a Definition of Reading through Investigation in Middle School to broaden the range of materials students’ can choose for their reading plans.

  • Test the Graphic 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.

Student Objectives

Students will

  • brainstorm and analyze a list of texts they have read.

  • create personal system to classify possible future readings.

  • compile a list of texts to read based on personal criteria.

  • (optional) track readings from the list informally in a journal or notebook.

Session One

  1. Explain that during the next few sessions, the class will create reading plans, lists of books they hope to read in the future. To begin the process, ask students to think about the books that they have read in the past.

  2. Ask students to brainstorm a list of texts that they have read during a specified time period—over summer vacation, over the course of the school year, over their years in elementary school, and so forth. Allow students at least five minutes to gather their titles and notes.

  3. Arrange students into small groups of three to four each, and ask them to share their lists with one another. Students can add items to their lists as they remind one another of titles.

  4. Demonstrate the Graphic Map, explaining that students will map 10–15 of the books on their lists:

    1. Open the Graphic Map, and type in your name and the title for your graphic map.

    2. On the next screen, you will be given a list of items. Choose “Other” and type in “Book” then click Next.

    3. Choose a rating system on the next screen. “3,2,1/-1,-2,-3” will give students the most options. Click Next.

    4. Type information about the book on the next screen:

      1. BOOK: type the title of the book.

      2. TOPIC: type any keywords that describe the book (e.g., genre, subject).

      3. DESCRIPTION: type additional details about the book and why you liked it (or didn't like it).

      4. RATING: click on the rating you’ve chosen for the book. A “3” would be a book you loved; a “-3” for a book you absolutely hated.

      5. ADD A PICTURE: Select an image from a menu of clip art pictures to represent the book.

    5. Repeat Step d. until all the books you have chosen are added.

    6. When you have added all the books, click Finish and review the books on the Print Preview.

    7. Hover the mouse over each picture to see the related title.

    8. If a book’s rating needs adjusted or you want to change a book’s information, double-click on the image.

    9. When you are finished entering events and are satisfied with the relationship among books as shown on Print Preview, print the Graphic Map.

  5. Give students the rest of the class to map their choices using the Graphic Map.

  6. Remind students to print their maps at the end of the session and to bring the printouts to the next class session.

Sessions Two and Three

  1. Remind students that the class is creating reading plans, lists of books they hope to read in the future.

  2. Explain that to create a list of books that they want to read, students need to identify what they liked about the books that they enjoyed.

  3. Working individually or in small groups, ask students to look for patterns connecting the books that they enjoyed the most—Are they the same genre? Do they focus on the same subject matter? Are they by similar authors? Are they books in a series?

  4. Have students keep notes in their notebooks or directly on the printouts of their Graphic Maps.

  5. Likewise, ask students, individually or in small groups, to analyze the books that they found less enjoyable to identify characteristics that they want to avoid in books that they read in the future.

  6. Once they've analyzed their past readings, pass out copies of the Reading Plan Chart, or display the chart using an overhead transparency and have students copy the chart into their notebooks or journals.

  7. Using the form, ask students to label rows with categories of books that they are most interested in reading in the future.

  8. Stress that any classification system is acceptable. Students might choose subject categories, genres, authors, or a mix of several different categories. Anything goes! A sample plan might include graphic novels, video game cheat books, fantasy novels, and books about military heroes.

  9. If desired, encourage to try one new category of books (e.g., a new author, a new genre, a new book format).

  10. With the rows labeled, students can begin filling the chart in with names of books that they want to read.

  11. Provide books, booklists, library access, and other resources for students to find titles to include in their reading plans. Encourage students to share titles with one another to help grow all the reading plans.

  12. When students have completed their reading plans, have them add their lists to their reading journals, where they can report on the books that they read. If they will be reading the books over summer vacation, adjust your instructions accordingly.

  13. Before the session ends, emphasize that the reading plan is a WISH list, not a TO-DO list. Stress that readers’ interests change, and they should adjust their plans as necessary. For instance, if they find that they are extremely interested in a genre they hadn't tried before and less interested in a category that they originally included in their plans, encourage students to revise their plans to include their new interests.

  14. If you have a structured system for reporting out on independent reading, conclude the session by explaining how students will document their reading (e.g., by writing summaries in their reading journals, by writing book reports, and so forth).


  • At the end of a unit or the end of the school year, allow students to go through books available in the class library as they help you sort and pack books for storage or return to the school library. As students find books that intrigue them, encourage them to add the titles to their reading plans.

  • If students create reading plans at the beginning of a term or unit, be sure to allow time at mid-term for students to look over their reading plans to reflect on their reading preferences and interests. Ask students to write about the books that they’ve read and any changes they have made in their plans since they were originally written.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Assessment for this activity is relatively informal. The emphasis of reading plans should be on empowering students to structure their own independent reading, not on meeting teacher-determined guidelines. Rely on kidwatching to note how students are developing as readers and critical thinkers, and look for completeness of students’ Graphic Maps and their Reading Plan Charts. Focus on students’ engagement in planning their future reading rather than the titles that they choose.

If your students keep a reading journal or reading log, you should encourage students to write about the process of creating their reading plans as well as the books that they read. You may provide a form for reading portfolios or Reading Logs to simplify recordkeeping on the books that students read.

Add new comment