First Chapter Friday!

Are you looking for an engaging way to end your week? First Chapter Friday is a fantastic way to preview books with students and *hopefully* get them reading over the weekend!

The whole idea of First Chapter Friday is straightforward. The students hear the first chapter of a new book every Friday. 

There is no right or wrong way to do this. You want First Chapter Friday to be fun for you and the students, so you decide how this will work best for your classroom! You could use this activity as a preview of a novel study or simply expose students to a variety of literature.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Choose the book yourself. Read the first chapter aloud or find the audio online. Youtube is an excellent resource with a plethora of options.
  2. Have a student choose a book or share one of their favorites with the class. Have the student read aloud, you read aloud, or find the audio online.
  3. Involve other staff members. Ask them to come in and read the first chapter of a book of their choice to your class. Now I understand many staff members are working during the day but ask them to record themselves reading a chapter if they cannot make it into the room. I always offer not to share the actual video and just the audio— a lot more buy-in from the staff members! 
  4. Invite parents to come into your classroom and read. Again, if this does not work with their schedule, many families would love to make this a family event and record themselves reading together. Share the video or audio with the class. 
  5. One part I have just added to my classroom First Chapter Friday is I give the students doodle sheets that encourage active listening. (even though they do not turn these into me). Suppose you do not have doodle sheets, blank pieces of paper for the students to draw on a perfect alternative. 
  6. Keep an ongoing list of FCF books you have listened to, so the students can be reminded of what they have heard. ( I also add if I have a copy of the book, the school library has it or where else it can be found) At the end of the year, I ask which ones have been their favorites and use that to help guide my next year’s choices of books. 
  7. I do not use this time for a grade at all. FCF is purely to enjoy our time together listening to books.


The best way to get started with First Chapter Friday is simply to begin! This can be started and stopped at any time of year. Check out our Youtube channel to see which ones we have done! 

Here is a list of some of my class’s favorites so far:

*This list contains a variety of genres, levels, and complexity. 

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Grade level: 5-6

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Grade level: 4-8

One of Us is Lying Karen McManus
Grade level: 9-12 

Scythe by Neal Shusterman
Grade level: 7-9 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
Grade level:- 8-12

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
Grade level: 4-8

Ghost by Jason Reynolds
Grade level: 4-8

Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper
Grade level: 4-8

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood
Grade level: 4-8

Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Grade level: 9-12

Way of the Warrior Kid by Jocko Willink
Grade level: 4-7

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Grade level: 6-8

Slider by Pete Hautman
Grade level: 4-6

Grenade by Alan Gratz
Grade level: 7-9

Heist Society by Ally Carter
Grade level: 6-8

Alone by Megan E Freeman
Grade level: 5-7 

What would be your first book to share? Leave any questions or comments! 


by Erin-Jane Stevens, Contributing Teacher/Writer. Erin-Jane Stevens is a middle school ELA teacher who strives to bring excitement to each class she sees.  She continues to find and create fun, new, and rigorous ways to captivate students’ attention and grow their love for ELA.

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