Students love reading and discussing Junior Great Books® selections because they are authentic and complex. Plus, in the sequence of activities we suggest, students go through a text multiple times, having it read aloud or listening to an audio recording, rereading it, and taking notes on specific aspects of the selection. This sustained interaction is only possible when fiction, nonfiction, and poetry selections are rich and support multiple interpretations. With Junior Great Books, the quality of texts supports everything we do.

Teachers love using Junior Great Books because the interpretive activities for each story or text build in a logical progression that really engages students. Whether you’re using Junior Great Books Series K or 1 for the youngest readers, Series 6–8 for middle schoolers, or the fiction or nonfiction series for grades 2–5, each unit features:

Teacher engaging with students during a Shared Inquiry Discussion using rich authentic texts

  • Prereading activities that prepare students for the content they are about to read
  • Sharing questions, which gives teachers a great idea about what students find most interesting in a selection and enables the class to clear up simple misconceptions
  • Second reading activities that focus students’ attention on important aspects of a text
  • Shared Inquiry™ discussion, which enables students to voice their opinions and listen to others in a welcoming, collaborative environment
  • Postdiscussion writing activities appropriate for each grade level

All of these features, from rich texts to absorbing activities, create an inquiry-based learning environment that both students and teachers enjoy. Download one or more of the sample lesson plans here to try Junior Great Books for yourself!

Jill Stansbury
The literature is so high quality. One class piloted the nonfiction materials in our first year of implementation. For the second year, the instructional team unanimously said, “Oh, we all want to do the nonfiction because the quality of the fiction is so high.” Some of the language is just so rich and delicious. I really enjoy the selections just as much as the students enjoy reading and discussing them.

Jill Stansbury
Academic Director and Montessori Coach
Pullman Community Montessori, Pullman, WA

Junior Great Books Series K and 1

These series for kindergarten and first grade are interactive read-aloud programs focused on helping young learners develop three key Shared Inquiry skills—listening, wondering, and sharing. They provide the literature, challenge, and critical thinking elements essential for “best practice” early literacy instruction. This booklet contains two texts for you and your students to explore:

  • “Those Shoes,” a story by Maribeth Boelts
  • “The Land of Nod,” a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson

Junior Great Books Series 2–5

Junior Great Books programs combine high-quality literature, student-centered discussion, and activities that support reading comprehension, critical thinking, speaking and listening, and writing. Download this booklet to find the complete text and activities for “The Gold Coin” by Alma Flor Ada.

Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry for Grades 2–5

The Junior Great Books Nonfiction Inquiry program for grades 2–5 brings high-quality nonfiction and student-centered discussion to your classroom while providing a superb framework for practicing reading comprehension, critical thinking, and writing. Download this booklet to see the unit overview, complete activities, and text for “Small Acts Make a Big Difference,” an engaging selection that describes the ways people in communities work together and profiles three different children who work to improve their communities.

Junior Great Books Series 6–8

This series for middle school, first published in 2020, includes:

  • High-quality texts in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry: 10 stories, 8 nonfiction texts, and 2 poems at each grade level
  • In-depth reading, critical thinking, and writing activities
  • Note-taking options focused on author’s craft
  • Differentiated instruction for every core activity
  • Formal and informal assessment options
  • Teacher support and online resources

Download the sample lesson plans today and see the complete activities and texts for one nonfiction selection, “Friends of the Hide” by Timothy Egan, and the poem “At work with my father” by Eve L. Ewing!

6-8 Junior Great Books Sample Lesson Plans

Learn More

Would you like to implement Junior Great Books in your classroom? Contact your K–12 partnership manager to plan Shared Inquiry training and discuss the right classroom materials for your setting!