Junior Great Books programs combine challenging, complex literature with inquiry-based reading, writing, and discussion activities and complement most gifted education approaches. Educators of gifted students can use Junior Great Books:

  • As the core program for gifted students
  • As supplemental work for all students
  • As a pullout program
  • As independent or group work

The lesson plans on this page, for students in grades K–8, include complete texts in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Each of these booklets contains:

  • Prereading activities that prepare students for the content they are about to read
  • Sharing questions, which allows students to share first impressions 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 instructions and questions
  • Postdiscussion writing activities

We invite you to try as many of the activities as you feel comfortable doing. Even without Shared Inquiry training, you will be able to engage in the prereading activities, as well as read the texts with your students and share initial questions that they have after a first reading. When you page through the lesson plans, we think you will find rigorous, absorbing content and a unique, effective approach for exploring it.

Junior Great Books has changed our culture. Students really value the ideas of others. They just learn how to talk to each other, how to respect each other’s ideas, and how to respectfully agree and disagree. Using a text as an anchor has really helped them and really accelerated their growth.”

Dr. Jennifer Cosme, Assistant Principal
Talented and Gifted School for Young Scholars, New York, NY

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 with your gifted students? Contact your K–12 partnership manager to plan Shared Inquiry training and discuss the right classroom materials for your setting!