What to Read, What Not to Read, and Everything in Between

Choosing the appropriate book for whole group classroom instruction is a complex task.  It requires us to consider...

  • Lexile and other quantitative measures of text complexity,
  • the appropriateness of the content presented in the reading,
  • the "face validity" of a text within your school’s community,
  • availability of materials,
  • student demographics,
  • classroom set-up,
  • and still other factors.

    Sometimes it’s difficult just to think of a few possible titles, but then we still must
  • decide which title is most appropriate,
  • consider its place in my class during the school year,
  • consider how it fits with other titles read within a school, and
  • gather resources to help students make meaning of the text.

The Curriculum Department is developing, with the help of English teachers and librarians, a few tools to help teachers navigate this process.  The four tools are explained below: Overarching Philosophies; The First-Read List; The Big, Unwieldy List; and The As-Yet-Unnamed List.  Read about them below and let us know how you'd like to be involved in the development of these tools.

Join the conversation!
Read all three documents and provide feedback here

or attend one of the Reading List Forums being held at Wilson this semester.

Overarching Philosophies

These are the beliefs and pieces of research that support and guide our thinking.  This page will contain helpful tips about teaching reading and what to consider when choosing a book for your class to read.  You will find info here about

  • using literature circles and classroom book clubs,
  • encouraging student choice,
  • building background knowledge,
  • focusing on before, during, and after reading,
  • keeping students actively engaged,
  • determining text complexity,
  • and more.



Please check all three draft documents before providing feedback.

We read this for the FIRST time in grade...

This list is a tool we are calling the First-Read List, or The Reserved List.  It indicates the grade-level at which a student should encounter a particular book for the first time.  For example, if a title is "reserved" for 8th grade, then a 6th grade teacher should not teach it, but a 9th grade teacher might choose to teach it.  An 8th grade teacher may teach anything that appears on the 8th grade list or before.  Students might or might not have read the listed titles in earlier grade, but a teacher is welcome to teach (and re-teach) any titles that appear ahead of his/her grade level. 

However, the same 8th grade teacher may not teach anything that is listed as a "First Read" at 9th grade and beyond.  Those titles are intended to be taught for the first time in high school, at whatever grade they are listed here.


The First-Read List is purposely short, and through the next stages of development, we will aim to keep it short.  Because it will result in a set of titles that teachers must avoid, we will keep this list shorter than the list of suggested titles.  For suggested titles, you will be able to consult "The Big, Unwieldy List."


Please check all three draft documents before providing feedback.

The Big, Unwieldy List

The Big, Unwieldy List will be quite long and difficult to manage.  : )
It is an ever-growing list of the titles that teachers might use in a classroom.

As discussed on the Overarching Philosophies page, WHAT we read in class doesn't matter nearly as much as HOW we read.  When we focus on WHAT, we aim for particular understandings of a particular text.  When we focus on HOW, we aim to build our students' ability to make meaning out of any text.  Students can find a theme in "Mother to Son" or Beowulf or Twelfth Night or The Giver or "Letter from Birmingham Jail."  Students can practice their understanding of characterization or point of view or different structures by reading any piece we decide to study.  Focusing on HOW we read builds our students' skill and gives us an opportunity to consider many different titles for use in the classroom.

If the First-Read List takes away a title, The Big, Unwieldy List should offer ten or fifteen other titles that a teacher could choose from instead.  The Big, Unwieldy List will also have direct links to book previews and resource materials for each title.

                                                           [updated October 12, 2015]

This list is likely to be unfinished forever.  We will always continue to add titles and resources.

Please check all three draft documents before providing feedback.


Complete this Google form

to give feedback on all three of the above documents.

The As-Yet-Unnamed List

For the sake of equity, we hope to generate a list of titles that one can reasonably expect a student to have read along the way to becoming college- or career-ready.

 If we are fully preparing our students, perhaps we are also ensuring that they have certain reading experiences under their belt.

 What do you think?

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