Should we teach whole class novel studies?

novel studies
Nicole at Apple Tree Resources
Should we teach whole class novel studies?

I once had a curriculum support person tell me that she didn't think teachers should do whole-class novel studies. My mind was blown! In this episode, I share my opinion on whole class novel studies (yes, yes, yes, please do them!) and give you my top reasons why I think they're important to do with our students. They're truly beneficial for so many reasons and I love sharing them with anyone who will listen. In this case, it's you! Tune in to learn more.


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Hey there, teachers! Welcome back to another episode of "Let's Chat Teaching" with your host, Nicole Sanders. Today, we're diving into the captivating world of full-class novel studies. I’m here to share my insights on a burning question – should you teach a full or whole class novel study?

First off, let's quickly break down what a whole class novel study is. It's when the teacher selects one novel for the entire class to read and dissect together. It's not just about reading a novel aloud to the class; it's a journey of exploration, dissecting elements of literature, plot structures, characters, dialogue, and more. The goal is to create a shared experience, a communal adventure through the pages of a carefully selected novel.

Now, I've got to share a personal tidbit here. Back in the day, I remember having a curriculum specialist question the value of full-class novel studies. The argument was that students have diverse interests, and making everyone read the same book might not engage them fully. But hold on, let me tell you, I've been a staunch supporter of this approach ever since. Why? Well, let's get into it.

First off, the community-building aspect is gold. A whole class novel study creates a shared experience that brings the class together in a unique way. In an era of separate stations and individual lessons, this is a rare gem. Picture this: a class collectively immersing themselves in a literary journey, sharing thoughts, emotions, and experiences. It's a beautiful harmony of minds and hearts.

Think back to your own school days. What was the first novel you remember being read aloud? I vividly recall "The Secret World of Og" in fourth grade, a fantastical adventure that sparked my imagination. Then there was "The Giver" in fifth grade, a mind-bending experience that changed my perspective. And who could forget "The Outsiders" in eighth grade, an oldie but a goodie that had the entire class hanging on every word?

These shared experiences stick with us. They create a bond between students and the teacher. And here's the magic—when we, as teachers, choose to embark on a full class novel study, we're not just reading a book. We're modeling a love for reading, demonstrating fluency, and exposing students to rich vocabulary.

One significant perk is exposing students to texts beyond their individual reading levels. Let's face it, our classrooms are a mosaic of reading abilities. By picking a novel that challenges some but not all, we're weaving a shared community experience. Research even backs this up, showing that exposure to words in formal writing positively impacts literacy, cognitive, and linguistic development.

Now, let's talk empathy. Reading a novel as a class helps students connect with characters and each other. It's a profound experience that builds empathy in ways that other methods might struggle to achieve. Authentic class discussions naturally flow from this shared community experience, creating a safe space for diverse thoughts, opinions, and emotions to blossom.

So, back to the burning question: should you teach full class novel studies? Drumroll, please. My resounding answer is yes, yes, and yes! The depth of learning, the community-building, the vocabulary enrichment, the empathy cultivation—it's a package deal that I look forward to every year. And trust me, it becomes one of the students' all-time favorite units.

Curious about specific novels for the grade five classroom? Well, you're in luck! Tune in next week as I spill the beans on some of my absolute favorites. Until then, keep the teaching magic alive, my friends! Thanks for hanging out, and I'll catch you in the next episode. 

And hey, if you're hungry for more, head over to for five free activities you can use with any story.

Have a wonderful week,




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