Doing a Book Study…Even in the Early Grades!

by Rachel Stepp

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Do you have a particular author that you are interested in? Do you think that your students should read a special book that will teach them a lifelong lesson? If you do, you might want to do a book study with your class.

The first step is choosing a book. Choose one that each student in your class can read individually or in pairs. In the earliest grades, you might have to choose a book that you can read aloud to the class everyday. Here are five days’ worth of ideas for how to do your very own book study:

Day 1

  • Introduce the book to your students. Tell your students why you have chosen your particular book and what you hope to do with it. Take ideas and suggestions from your students.
  • Create a chart with them on large chart paper. Title the chart “KWL,” which stands for “What I Know, What I Want to Know, and What I Have Learned.” The students can fill in the K and the W before reading the book, after they have done a picture walk. Students can also predict what the reading will be about.

Day 2

  • Let your students read the book (or read it aloud to them). If you are letting your students read it individually or with a partner, make sure that you have enough copies of the text.
  • Help students to create a word bank of important words that they come across and words that they do not know.
  • At the end of your session on this day, fill in the “W” on your chart about what students have learned that day from their reading.

Day 3

  • On this day, focus on the author (and possibly the illustrator) of your book. Bring in biographies and online information about your author so that the students are aware of who wrote the book.
  • When you introduce authors to students, they realize that people who write books are real people, just like them. Ask them to find similarities between their own lives and the author’s life.
  • One great book I like to do this with is Tommy DePaola’s The Art Lesson. This book follows the thoughts of a young student, Tommy, who wants to be an artist; the fun comes when you tell your students that Tommy DePaola wrote this book about himself!

Day 4

  • Revisit your book on this day. Reread the text and go over tricky and important words that students have recorded.
  • Have students illustrate and write about their favorite part in the book. They can write describing words, sentences, and even paragraphs (depending on the grade). Allow your students to share their ideas and discover similarities and differences between their illustrations and those found in the book.

Day 5

  • Celebrate your book choice! Reread the text to the children and finish the “KWL” chart. Children should be able to identify what they have learned while reading the book. Ask children if they answered all of their questions about what they wanted to know.
  • If they did not answer their questions, help them discover places where they can look to find answers. This could start a student-led research project!

When you’re finished with your week-long book study, introduce a few more books to your students that are either written by the same author or are written on the same topic. Students that were interested in your book will be interested to read more.
If you are looking for some variation in this book study, ask your students what kinds of projects that they would like to complete. Student choice gives students the chance to express their individuality and to be creative!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia whose good ideas are frequently published on A Learning Experience.

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