What is First Chapter Friday?
About two months ago, I published a post about my success with First Chapter Friday. I began using the hashtag #FirstChapterFriday on Instagram. Teachers asked questions and shared their experiences.
Honestly, First Chapter Friday with high school students has exploded! I’ve written about a First Chapter Friday book list. Riley Reads interviewed me about inspiration and First Chapter Friday. Secondary ELA teachers are finding how easy (and free!) First Chapter Friday is with older students.
Now that I’m into my second semester of reading for First Chapter Friday, I wanted to answer the most common questions I’ve had.
So, what is First Chapter Friday?
It is a time of reading, and you can make it what your students need it to be.
Overall, I read the first chapter of a book to students every Friday. If a chapter is short, I might read two chapters. I read for about 7-10 minutes. I ask students not to be working, but rather to listen.
Will my students sit?
Overall, my students enjoy listening to new literature. I ask for iPads to be put away, but I do encourage students to doodle or draw.
So, you just go to the front of the room and read?
Yep. The first Friday with a new class, I explain that I will read the first chapters of about fifteen books during the semester, one for every Friday. They are welcome to borrow a book.
Do you assign work or points?
I do not. I treat First Chapter Friday as a time for enjoyment and relaxation. We don’t complete any work associated with it.
We have discussions, though. I will highlight interesting words or unique phrasing. Which leads me to…
Yes, I do model.
I read for students and use inflections and pauses. I will look up a word in the dictionary if I am unsure of it. If an image pops in my head, I share that. If I think an actor should play one of the characters, I tell students. I treat it a bit like a book club discussion.
Do you “sell” the book?
Some. I will read the inside cover or show a book trailer. I provide background information if necessary, and I show book-to-movie announcements, worthy news pieces, or a Twitter feeds if relevant.
When I read one of Sharon Draper’s books, I tell students that I follow her on Instagram and that I own every book of hers. When I read one of Sarah Dessen’s books, I tell students that she teaches creative writing at a university and that I want to take her class.
I get excited about the book which in a way sells the book.
You end reading at the first chapter? Just stop?
Typically, yes. I tell students they may borrow the book and start the day’s lesson. Someone might take the book, and other times a student will ask after class or a few days later.
Once, a class loved a book. I continued the next week with a new book, and they all asked about the previous one. I did read that book to them each Friday.
What happens if more than one student wants the book?
I made this mistake early during a First Chapter Friday. I had no backup plan.
Now, I plan my books ahead and speak to the librarian. The librarian knows what I am reading, and either has another copy of my book, a book by the same author, or can access another copy. Sometimes, I will read a book if she says she has a book similar in nature.
Nothing makes me happier than sending three students down to the library after a First Chapter Friday reading.
What happens if no one wants to borrow the book?
That’s ok! We continue with the rest of the day. I have noticed, however, that when students have independent reading time, they will gravitate to the books I’ve read to them. They might be comfortable with the books? The book is less of a risk? I’m not sure.
How do you pick your books? When?
Normally by Thursday morning, I know what book I will read. Doing so allows me to research the book and talk to the librarian. My goal is to expose students to different authors, genres, narrators… all of it. If I have not finished the entire book, I will read the first few chapters.
This is my first year with First Chapter Friday, and I do wish I had written down all of my books. I wish I knew if I was balancing male and female authors, for instance. My one suggestion is to keep a list of the books you’ve read.
We have assemblies on Friday…
Oh! Absolutely: read the first chapter any day of the week. First Chapter Tuesday works too!
Do you have any other questions about First Chapter Friday? I will gladly answer them. Just comment!
So, I was thinking about switching it up. . .
For sure—make First Chapter Friday with high school students your own process. Some teachers struggle with how to introduce a book to a class, and they find success by reading the first chapter to students. Others use First Chapter Friday to introduce lit circles. If you are reading aloud to your secondary students and are encouraging them to read, I’m not sure how you could mess up the process!
Join in the fun! If you are still exploring First Chapter Friday, find the hashtag on Instagram, #FirstChapterFriday. I attempt to post my book on Thursday afternoon. Tons of teachers share what books work well for reading the fist chapter.
You can find more First Chapter Fridays high school ideas on my Instagram page.