First Chapter Fridays with Secondary Students

Try a First Chapter Friday with your high school students! Students love being read to by a teacher, and they will experience different genres, authors, narrators, and more. #HighSchoolELA #FirstChapterFriday

First Chapter Fridays work well in my secondary classroom. Here are some tips I’ve learned.

(First, I want to acknowledge that I did not invent First Chapter Fridays. I saw teachers talking about the process on Instagram. I searched for ideas and couldn’t find solid ideas for high school students. I took the idea and developed the guidelines below. If you know who indeed created First Chapter Fridays, let me know, and I will credit them.)

I want my classroom culture to be one of language, of appreciating the written and spoken word. Like so many of you, I want a literacy-rich classroom. This past summer, I decided that one way to achieve that would be through First Chapter Fridays.

Try a First Chapter Friday with your high school students! Students love being read to by a teacher, and they will experience different genres, authors, narrators, and more. #HighSchoolELA #FirstChapterFriday

Students love it when I read to them. Every Friday, I read one chapter of a new book to my students. Hopefully, one of them asks to read it. If no one takes the book, that’s ok! Students relaxed while I read, and they experienced a new author, genre, point of view, and on.

This process has worked well with my freshmen, and I hope you can adapt the process to fit your needs.

  1. Find an assortment of books. In my post about building a classroom library, I discuss ways to find inexpensive books. If you don’t own books, borrow some from the library. Share books with colleagues.
  2. Pick your book! I have a general process of considerations. I want to expose my students to different genres and both male and female narrators. I want them to experience meaningful topics about refugees, blended families, bullied teens, and everything! I keep a running list of my First Chapter Friday books. I search for ones that will address new criteria.
  3. Complete a quick Internet search. Only you can judge what will work in your community and school. Be sure that the subject matter is acceptable.
  4. Read the book, or at least read a few chapters. If you’re like I am, you’ll read the whole book. It’s fine; stand in the hall and read and greet students. I actually believe this small act of stepping into the hall to read has improved my classroom culture.
  5. Make a plan for the presentation. Sell your book! I do a bit of a “book talk.” For instance, when I used Deadly Design for a First Chapter Friday, I planned my presentation ahead of time:
    I read the first chapter. We “met” the twin brothers. The brothers were genetically modified, and one was kept frozen for two years. The twins were actually born two years apart.
    I read the back cover that explains how one twin will die of a genetic condition, leaving the younger twin two years to find a doctor to fix the problem. At this point, students were hooked.
    I read the second chapter. They were hooked!
    Plan ahead what will work for your book.
  6. Finish, and ask if anyone wants to borrow the book. Often, I do have students ask me to borrow the book. If I have a student who looked interested, I will ask that students quietly as the bell rings. They normally take the book.
  7. Choose a new book for the next Friday!

My librarian is fabulous, and when I have multiple students who want to read the book, she borrows extras for me. Sometimes I will give students a similar book. I once read a Sarah Dessen book for First Chapter Friday, and I ended up distributing several of her books to interested students. The point for me is that I was putting books into the hands of students.

Those are my thoughts and processes behind First Chapter Friday with secondary students. Have you tried First Chapter Friday? What worked for you? What concerns do you have? I’m interested to see other high school teachers’ processes.Β 

Thanks for coming to my blog! Did you want literary graphic organizers or note-taking sheets? Other common searches include literary posters and talking points for parents. I’m glad that you’re here!

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  • Meredith

    Love this! I have implemented 10-15 minutes of independent reading in my freshman class but am having trouble getting students hooked.

    What do you do if you have several students who want to read the same book? How do you decide who gets it first?

    • Lauralee (author)

      Hi Meredith,

      I get more copies of the book! When this happens, I am thrilled. I had one book (I think Revived) take off, and I returned to the dollar store and bought some more. Other times, I ask my librarian to borrow books from other libraries. She knows what I do every Friday, and she helps me.

      Try it! Students really enjoy getting hooked. Let me know how it goes for you!

  • Marie

    I can’t wait to start this with my 9th and 10th graders next term! I am currently picking which books I want to highlight during our first 9-week quarter and it is SO FUN!!

    Do you ever have your students respond to the chapters they hear? I’m thinking of a way I can incorporate some brief writing practice into the mix…

    • Caitlin

      Don’t do it. Just let them enjoy the experience!

  • Sarah Kruckeberg

    This is such an awesome idea! I can’t wait to start this with my 5th graders.

    • Lauralee (author)

      Let me know how it goes! I love to hear ideas to add to my classroom.

  • Jill Shelton

    At a high school, you have several periods of the same course. Do you read the same book each period, then let the borrower take it the next day? Switch to a different book after letting a kid borrow it first hour?

    • Lauralee (author)

      I read the same book, but I have backup books. Oftentimes, the librarian has other copies waiting for students because we collaborate on First Chapter Fridays. Other times, I read the same author to different classes. For instance, I have about 20 Sarah Dessen books, and if I read one of her books, students may choose a similar one. Finally, I will send students to the library, and she will send out a request to borrow books from other libraries.

      If students borrow all my copies, I do choose another book for my other classes! I just keep reading. πŸ™‚

  • Dionne

    This is a great idea! I homeschool twin teen boys that are starting 9th this year. Can’t wait to head to the library and make our Fridays more interesting.

    • Lauralee (author)

      Have SO much fun! I don’t have teenagers yet (as a mother), but I love reading with my own kids too. Let me know how it goes!

  • Josephine Rose

    Do you read to them at the beginning or end of class?

    • Lauralee (author)

      Hi! I read as soon as the bell rings. It sets such a nice feeling for the day.

      Thanks for asking! Have you started First Chapter Friday?

  • Lisa

    Do you have a list of books you used? I love this idea! Thanks!

  • Pingback: How to Create the Classroom Library of Your Dreams ο»Ώ | It's Lit Teaching

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