Using "You Choose Your Adventure" Novels in the Classroom

Do you remember LOVING to play Oregon Trail on the old black and green-screened computers? We strategically planned out how much meat to pack, how many people to bring, and what to name our family members, only to die in the end. The endings ranged from contracting either diphtheria or cholera, to drowning in the river, or dying from a snake bite, all of which were exciting ways to die when traveling west in the 1800s. I honestly do not remember ever making it west. I remember that the only way I could survive was to stop the journey and build along the river. But, despite the eventual death sentence, I loved playing this game — and for my students, this same kind of love is happening with "You Choose You Adventure" Books. 

I introduced "You Choose" books into my 7th grade ELA class this year, and it has been a game-changer! I have watched as students navigate adventures such as surviving a global blackout, being stranded in the jungle, going down with the Titanic, or living as a World War II spy. Anytime a student feels eager to read— that's a win in my book! Even better -- they don't even realize they are hitting so many reading standards! *Happy Clapping Dance*

Excited Schitts Creek GIF by CBC


Here are some ways I am using these books in the classroom: 

Inferencing & Predictions:

These books lend themselves to teaching students how to use inferencing to make predictions. I have the students read a few pages until the next choice comes. We talk about the options and what could potentially happen with each choice, then make predictions. We talk about our predictions and read on; this can be done over and over again as students read. This is also a great time to talk about correct and incorrect predictions and any foreshadowing to the actual endings. 

Critical Thinking & Problem Solving:

Any time I can incorporate essential skills into my ELA class, I will do it. While reading these books, students face decisions that require critical thinking. They must weigh the pros and cons of their options, make clear choices, and evaluate how that choice made a difference in the end. But good news: if they did not like their ending, they can go back and try again!  

Alternative Endings:

"You Choose" books are fantastic for the students to write their own endings. This skill requires students to understand the previous events to create an ending that aligns with the story. There are no limits to these endings, and nothing is too far-fetched! Watch your students get excited about writing! 

Comparing to historical events:

Some of these books are based on historical events. Did you know we have Real Stories of Survival texts? This is a fantastic opportunity to snag a non-fiction text and compare the two pieces of work. Compare and contrast is a great skill to review any time of the year!

Check out some "You Choose" books from Amazon! 

We love "You Choose" books! How do you use them in your classroom?

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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