Standard Lesson

Writing ABC Books to Enhance Reading Comprehension

3 - 5
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Four 50-minute sessions
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Comprehension requires more than knowledge of the basic facts in a reading. Instead, readers need to actively in engage in their readings to move toward critical thinking. After reading a piece of literature, students explore their text, searching for literary elements such as characters, setting, figures of speech, and themes. They use the alphabet to organize their findings. Finally, they publish their work in ABC books, using the Alphabet Organizer student interactive.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Reading comprehension is often linked to understanding. However there is more to comprehending than simply "getting" what you read. In his article from Voices from the Middle, Robert Probst takes a look at his own comprehension and the strategies he uses while reading. He concludes, "Comprehension is too complex to be effectively assessed with anything so simple and reductive as a test, and it isn't achieved by concentrating solely on the text itself, though of course that does require close attention. Instead, to comprehend requires a concerted effort to see through the text to what lies beyond. And that demands an imaginative and committed reader." If we as adults understand this, then we need to look at how we assess our students' comprehension.

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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 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.
  • 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

  • Selected text

  • Online access

  • Chart paper and markers



Student Objectives

Students will

  • read and discuss a work of fiction.

  • make personal connections to the text as a means of improving comprehension.

  • explore the use of literary elements such as characters, vocabulary and themes in a work of fiction.

  • collect examples of literary elements while reading.

  • construct an alphabet book, which demonstrates comprehension of a work of fiction.

  • present their alphabet books to the class.

Session One: Prior to Student Reading

  1. In a class discussion, ask the students what kinds of things they notice or pay attention to as they read.

  2. List their responses on chart paper or on the board. They should identify elements such as character, setting, dialogue, and so forth. Provide examples and suggestions from the book as necessary to help students build their list.

  3. Explain to the students that they will be looking for these things (characters, vocabulary, literary elements) as they read or listen to the assigned text.

  4. Pass out the Alphabet Book Checklist, showing them what is necessary in their Alphabet Book.

  5. Show the students the Student Planning Sheet, and discuss how they will use it to record a key word or term while they are reading (See example). Then, when the students are using the online Alphabet Organizer, they can transcribe their keyword, and add details or examples at that time.

  6. Using an LCD projector, demonstrate use of the Alphabet Organizer. Students will be using Option 2 in the tool, where they will be able to type in words and related notes for each letter of the alphabet.

  7. Using a book that has previously been read or discussed in class (here, Harry Potter), demonstrate how to create an Alphabet Book.

  8. Ask students to gather details on the book (or books) that they are reading to create their own Alphabet Books. Note: while the teacher demonstration is completed after the text is read by the whole class, it is a good idea to have the students fill out planning sheet as they read so that they are paying attention to details and literary elements throughout their engagement with the text.

Session Two: Student Work and Reading

  1. Remind students of the goals and elements included in this project. Answer any questions students have.

  2. Encourage students to record the literary elements they encounter on the Student Planning Sheet.

  3. Point students to the Alphabet Book Checklist to remind them what needs to be included in their Alphabet Book.

  4. While students work, encourage them to interact with one another, to share and receive feedback on their plans for alphabet books.

  5. Repeat this session as many times as necessary to allow enough reading and work time for students to complete their reading and notes before Session Three.

Session Three: Publishing Alphabet Books

  1. When all letters are completed, students can print their letter pages, review the printouts, and make any corrections before exiting.

  2. Give students time to type, proofread, and print their bookmarks. Remind them to print multiple copies if necessary to share with other students and the library.

  3. If students realize an error later, they can always print a new letter page by starting again and filling in only the letter they need. Keep in mind; the tool will print only those letters completed.

  4. If time on the computer is limited and the entire Alphabet Book cannot be completed, students can print out completed letters after each session and turn those in to the teacher.

  5. This project also works well as group work. Groups of students can be assigned certain letters of the alphabet, and their printed letters can all be put together into a book.

  6. When printing, students have two choices. Ask your students to print out their work using "Letter Pages" or "Charts and Notes." If the "Letter Pages" option is used, each letter will print out on a separate page. If the "Charts and Notes" option is used, one page will print out with an alphabet chart and the words chosen. A second set of pages will print with the notes recorded for each letter.


Student Assessment / Reflections


  • Teacher should observe students for their participation during the discussions about the work of fiction, as well as the literary elements.

  • In class discussions and conferences, students should be able to define literary elements such as characters, vocabulary and themes in a work of fiction.

  • Teacher and student should compare the student’s Planning Sheet and Alphabet Book Checklist to the final Alphabet Book to check that all components are present.

  • As students present their alphabet books to the class, the teacher can take notes, using the Alphabet Book Checklist, to verify the alphabet books are complete.


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