First Chapter Fridays (Both F2F and Virtually!)

Motivating students to read is one of the hardest but most fulfilling roles of a teacher. I absolutely love that moment when a reluctant reader finds a book of interest. But how can you make that happen?

Enter First Chapter Fridays. This concept is one of my favorite ways to introduce students to new and diverse books. 

What are First Chapter Fridays?

Each Friday you will set aside a few minutes to read the first chapter of a book. That's it! But why?
  • To spark interest in the book. Your students will begging you to read more and are more likely to pick the book up and read it themselves.
  • To build community. Shared reading is community building--especially if you choose relevant, purposeful novels.
  • Assessment. You will immediately see what books your students are interested in. This will help when you need to make recommendations and when choosing books for class-wide studies. 
  • Fun! We can all use a fun Friday activity. This is one your students will look forward to AND it's educational. 

How to Choose the Right Books

Choosing the right books is CRUCIAL for First Chapter Fridays to be more than just a fun activity. If you want to really motivate your students, you must be purposeful with your choices. 

  • Choose relevant texts. The books you choose should speak to your students in some way. Do they need to connect with a certain character? Is there a social issue in your school you need to address? Are you studying a time period in Social Studies you can connect? Etc. 
  • Choose books that are AVAILABLE. It serves no purpose to excite your students about a book they can't access. How frustrating would that be for them? Make sure the book is at least available in your school library. 

But wait, I'm teaching virtually! How can I make this work?

Virtual teaching makes everything more complicated. But that doesn't mean it's any less effective!

First consider how you can present this to your students. 

  • If you have scheduled live meetings (via zoom, google meet, etc.) you can simply set aside time for this on Fridays. Consider making this a big, fun deal! Invite students to grab a snack, stuffed animal, etc. while you read. 
  • If you prerecord videos for your students, you can prerecord a special video for this as well! Last spring I used for FREE to record videos for my class. It was extremely user friendly!

Next, consider how to get books into the hands of your students. Just like in the classroom, you wouldn't want to choose a book your students can't access. 

These are some of my favorite ways to access books remotely. 

I highly HIGHLY highly recommend contacting your local library. Many libraries can help you get library cards for your students. They will then have access to free apps and resources. I can't recommend this enough! My favorite apps through my local library are: 
  1. Libby (my personal favorite) 
  2. hoopla
  3. RBdigital
These other resources I've personally used and love:
  1. Epic (An amazing selection of books and a fun interface.)
  2. Vooks (This one is especially great for younger students. It is subscription based, but I've had free or reduced access to them through the pandemic. Always check for deals for teachers!)
  3. Project Gutenberg (The first provider of free electronic books. These are all classics, but don't let that scare you! It's great to mix some of these into your library. Think Peter Pan, Anne of Green Gables, and the Secret Garden--still beloved!)
  4. Amazon through Kindle (Look for free books here!)
Finally, these resources have not been personally used by me. But they come highly recommended by other teachers. Let me know if you've tried them!

  1. Novel effect
  2. Caribu 
  3. Raz-kids (free trial available)
  4. Common Lit (free)
  5. Scrbd (free trial available)
  6. Read theory 

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