Friday, June 27, 2008

Choose Your Own Adventure Books: Practical Classroom Resources

If you're anywhere near my age (I'm in my mid-to-late 20's), then you probably remember the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books that started gaining in popularity in the early 1990's. This series has sold over 250 million copies, so that means there's a ton of these things floating around. I've found some at used book stores here in town, in bulk on Ebay, and have had some donated to me by people around the community.

Now, the Choose Your Own Adventure books aren't really what you want to do a classroom read aloud, although it might be neat to throw one in at some point just to see how it goes. I've done that, but that's not really the point here, I wanted to briefly discuss how these books are practical in the classroom.

First of all, most kids, even today's more tech savvy kids, seem to enjoy these little blasts from the past. They're usually quick reads, they can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes depending on the speed and interest of the reader. I have about 25 of them sitting on my classroom bookshelf, with the understanding that kids can check them out for enjoyment, but won't be able to do a book report or score points on them. I still had these books checked out over 100 times this past year, which is pretty good among 21 students.

I did use CYOA books a few times in instruction. What I did was, I had students partner up, I gave them a copy, and told them to take turns reading orally. They had to make decisions together, and try to get to the best scenario ending of their story, or the worst scenario, their choice. The lesson went over really well, and was especially a hit with struggling readers, who felt a sense of accomplishment in finishing a book in one sitting.

If you run across these books on the cheap, they're definitely a good addition to your classroom library if you teach anything from 3rd grade right on up through probably 7th or 8th grade (after that, students will probably begin to lose interest). They're fun, they're quick, and there's 250 million of them out there.


Stephanie said...

I grab these up from yard sales and thrift stores whenever I find them. I'm 27, about to turn 28, and I LOVED these as a kid. I have a six year old who is a fantastic reader and who enjoys these as well. Yay for passing on the tradition!