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Books open windows to the world. They have the ability to transform readers, expand knowledge and support learning both in and out of the classroom. The Great American Read (TGAR) provides a variety of ways to increase engagement around books, and develop students’ literacy and language skills.

Here are some innovative ways to deepen student learning around classic novels. You can choose a novel from The Great American Read, or venture out and select one your own.

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Writing Ideas and Activities


Encourage your students, children or teens to write a short story, essay or poem about a book they loved, and why. Below are some ideas to get your started!

Character Adventure

Ask students to create a short story answering the following questions: If you could go on an adventure or spend the day with a character in a book, who would it be, and why? Where would you go and what would you do?

Books in General

Ask students to discuss the following questions with a classmate, and summarize their answers in a written statement:
What is one of your favorite books and why? Who is your favorite character and what makes him/her so special to you?

Interested in having your Great American Read activities featured on Thinkport? Send email to ladler@mpt.org with your full name, a description or copy of the activity, and a photo or video.

Write a Haiku

Ask students to write a Haiku (a 3 sentence poem) about one of their favorite books:
Haiku Example: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Teen runs from dad
Befriends a runaway slave
Satire of Old South

Reading Blog

Write a blog about a book you are reading, including details about characters (Ex: smart, rambunctious, witty, intense), the setting, plots or themes.

Letters from Characters

Encourage students to read a book from The Great American Read. Ask them to write letters back and forth between characters from the book.

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Music, Media and Art-Themed Activities


Encourage your students, children or teens to express their creative side through art, music and media activities. Below are some ideas to get you started!

Music Mash Up

Ask students to create a rap style video using lines from novels on The Great American Read list, or other appropriate books.

I Love Reading Video

Ask students to create a video explaining why they love reading and why they think reading is important in school. Then have them incorporate pictures or music into the video.

Collage or Poster

Ask students to create a collage (hands-on activity or digital media) of covers from their favorite books, or characters from books they love.

Poetry Slam

Hold a poetry-style slam contest based on novels from The Great American Read list, make a video, and share online using hashtag #GreatReadPBS

Design a Book Cover

Ask students to design a book cover combining themes or characters from two different novels on The Great American Read list. Show your Great American Read spirit, and share the project online using #GreatReadPBS

-httJessica Shawp://thinkport.org/spotlight-1Growth Mindset - Kelly Ronson䆜