Standard Lesson

I Remember That Book: Rereading as a Critical Investigation

9 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Seven 45-minute sessions, plus additional writing time
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Have your students investigate their own reading habits, past and present. This lesson begins with a reflective writing activity that has students explore their memories about reading. Students then create a map that plots significant encounters with books and a visual representation in which they sketch what they do when they choose not to read. Next, students brainstorm their most vivid memory of pleasurable reading, select a book to reread, and write a series of reflections on their original reading of the book. Finally, students study and write essays about rereading.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

  • Many students, over time, develop habits of reading for school that include "faking" reading.

  • Literacy education emphasizes a scope and sequence approach to reading-that certain books are taught at certain times-the implication of which is to discourage teachers from spending classroom time exploring students' pasts as readers.

  • When resistant readers reflect on their past experiences as readers, especially the presence or absence of enjoyment, they may begin to recognize what it is about reading that they actually like.
  • Students often separate their out-of-school identities and knowledge from their in-school identities.

  • Educators and students might benefit from exploring students' literacy skills and knowledge expertise in out-of-school settings.

  • Students can benefit from their teachers helping to bridge these seemingly disparate out-of- and in-school experiences.

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

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of 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

  • Chart paper

  • Colored pencils

  • Computers with Internet access

  • One classroom computer with overhead projection capability or overhead projector and transparencies (optional)



1. Familiarize yourself with the concept of rereading and why it is valuable. The article cited in the Theory to Practice section offers valuable insights, as does the book Rereadings: Seventeen Writers Revisit Books They Love edited by Anne Fadiman.

2. Read the two sample essays to get a sense of what your students will be producing. Print enough copies of the essays so that there is one for each student in your class.

3. Visit and familiarize yourself with the Graphic Map online tool. You may choose to use this tool with students during Session 2. If you do, and you do not have classroom computers with Internet access, reserve your school's computer lab. Bookmark the tool on the computers students will be using.

4. Review the Sample Rereading Essay Rubric and think about how it might be best modified for use with your students. You might also want to arrange to use a computer and projector or create an overhead transparency of it so that you and your students can work on revising it together.

5. Prepare to modify this lesson plan to suit your students' learning styles or to make it more research oriented. For example, you might ask students to use the Internet to research the authors whose books they are reading.

Student Objectives

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

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.


Student Assessment / Reflections

In addition to checking students’ 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.

pat kelley
I plan to share this website with my students. I use Lesson Plan Book for the Diverse Classroom, by Stacy Pellchia Dean, Ph.D.
pat kelley
I plan to share this website with my students. I use Lesson Plan Book for the Diverse Classroom, by Stacy Pellchia Dean, Ph.D.
pat kelley
I plan to share this website with my students. I use Lesson Plan Book for the Diverse Classroom, by Stacy Pellchia Dean, Ph.D.

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