Three Ways to Introduce a Class Novel

Three Ways to Introduce a Class Novel in the Secondary ELA Classroom

One of the most significant factors of a successful classroom novel study is engagement. If students are engaged in the text, they are more likely to enjoy reading, comprehend the story, and look at the story's content through a critical lens.

I try my best to engage students in our whole-class novels by introducing the novel in a way that creates excitement and curiosity. I want my students to want to read.

Here is a look at three different ways to introduce a classroom novel.

Preview the Novel


Give the students some time in class with the novel to preview the novel. When I have my students preview the novel, I usually give them about 10 minutes in class to look over and read the front and back covers, read the first few paragraphs, look up information about the author.

Usually, to give my students some more structure for this activity, I will ask them several questions. Students are free to work in small groups answering these questions and discussing the book.

  • What do you think will happen in this book?
  • What do you think the main conflict will be?
  • Based on the information you researched about the author, what do you think the theme of this book will be?
  • What was happening in the world when this book was written?
Another way to add more structure to a novel preview activity is to use the pre-reading task cards in my Response to Literature Task Cards set. These literary analysis task cards come in a print, digital, and combo bundle.

Watch a Video about the Author


Showing a quick video that features the author is a great way to engage students in a class novel before you read. By showing an introductory movie, students will not only get an introduction to some of the novels, but they will also get to learn more about the author.

When I teach Night in my classroom, I always show Oprah Winfrey's Elie Wiesel interview at Auschwitz before reading the memoir. This video opens students' eyes to the Holocaust's atrocities, and it helps students understand more context, which helps make connections when we read.

When I read Long Way Down with my students, I showed the Jason Reynolds interview from The Daily Show before we read. My students enjoyed seeing the author speak about issues that they care about.

Introduce a Novel with Collaborative Research


One of the most academic ways that I've introduced a novel in the classroom is through a collaborative research project. For this activity, I use any of my group research projects in my The Daring English TPT store that corresponds with the novel I am teaching.

Setting up a group research project as a novel introduction activity is easy. First, you will want to come up with your assignment requirements. Typically, I have my students write a group report and then place that information into a slideshow presentation. For group presentations, I've always found the most success when I give them a template.

Sample Group Research Project Template:

  • Slide 1: Title slide with group member names
  • Slide 2: Table of Contents
  • Slides 3+: Content Slides. Each student is responsible for a different content slide.
  • Last Slide: Works Cited Page
Once you have the assignment guidelines figured out, you'll want to develop a list of topics. Each group should have a different list of topics, and all of the issues should relate to the social, historical, and political background of the novel.

For this activity, I usually give students a couple of days to work together in class on their projects, and then students present their findings to the class.

I have group research projects for Night, Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, The Odyssey, and more!

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