5 Ways to Use Authentic Literature in Your Classroom

By Booksource

5 Ways to Use Authentic Literature in Your Classroom


“Because engaged readers spend 500% more time reading than disengaged readers, teachers should attempt to increase engaged reading time by 200-500%.” (Guthrie 2004)

Authentic literature has the power to excite students and foster a love of engaged reading. Research shows that mere access to print materials improves student reading performance (Lindsay 2010), and that time spent reading in the classroom contributes significantly to reading improvement (Taylor, Frye and Maruyama 1990).

For busy teachers, though, it can be a challenge to integrate real books into an already jam-packed schedule of daily lessons. How do you get students reading more throughout the day? Here are 5 ways to improve student literacy skills by integrating books into different types of classroom instruction.

  1. Read Aloud Every Day—in Every Grade

When you think of a read aloud, what comes to mind? Often, it’s a popular picture book like The Hungry Caterpillar or They All Saw a Cat. Titles like these allow teachers to model fluency and demonstrate reading practices and skills to pre- and early readers.

But read alouds have a lot to offer middle and high school students too. They can be especially beneficial to English Language Learners (ELL), helping them learn vocabulary, inflection and more. And they shouldn’t be limited to fiction. Informational read alouds of nonfiction texts offer powerful opportunities for learning too.

  1. Make Time for Independent Reading

Independent reading is the heart of any literacy program. Make it a priority in your classroom by:

  • Setting aside structured silent reading time each day.
  • Asking students to read at home each night.
  • Building robust classroom libraries filled with a wide variety of titles to appeal to a wide variety of student interests.

Authentic literature is ideal for independent reading at any level because students get to choose books they actually want to read. When students have a voice in their own reading process, they read more—becoming better, more engaged readers as they do.

  1. Integrate Engaging Books into Small Group Instruction

With a low student-teacher ratio, small group instruction provides students with a safe place to practice 21st century literacy skills. In guided reading groups, students at the same instructional level practice with leveled books and plenty of support, as teachers work to help them move up the ladder of text complexity.

Authentic literature also plays a central role in book clubs and literature circles, where small groups can be formed around reading levels or personal interests, allowing students to have in depth discussions about a title they have all read.

  1. Integrate Engaging Books into Whole Class Instruction

Whole class literacy instruction provides all students with a shared book and a shared reading experience. During a reading workshop, for example, teachers use real books to model and illustrate comprehension strategies and skills to the whole class. When you have a solid collection of authentic literature, it’s easy to connect texts to strategies like inferring, summarizing and predicting. The books in your collection can also serve as mentor texts during a writing workshop, and as resources for author and genre studies.

  1. Bring Literacy into the Content Areas

Today’s students must learn not just how to read and write, but how to learn through reading and writing. High-quality informational texts enhance lessons in science, social studies, even mathematics and technology, and help educators teach critical 21st-century skills like research, inquiry, creativity, problem-solving and collaboration. Real books really can be used to teach almost anything!

For custom bookrooms, collections and classroom libraries to engage students and support results-driven literacy instruction, call 800.444.0435 or request a custom booklist.

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J.T. Guthrie, “Teaching for Literacy Engagement,” Journal of Literacy Research 36 (2004): 1-30

Lindsay, J. (2010). Children’s access to print material and education-related outcomes: Findings from a meta-analytic review. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates.


Taylor, B. M., Frye, B. J., & Maruyama, G. M. (1990). Time spent reading and reading growth. American Educational Research Journal27(2), 351-362.