3 ways you can use the What Kids Are Reading report in your classroom

By Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist

In between episodes of Parks and Recreation, I was sifting through some of the recently added movies and TV shows on Netflix. One title caught my eye—A Series of Unfortunate Events. Where have I seen that before? Why does that sound so familiar? Of course! I read a few of the books in elementary school. With a rush of nostalgia, I was taken back to browsing the bookshelves, my fingers running over book spines, searching for my next read. After adding the series to my queue on Netflix, I’m determined to pick up the book series again in 2017 and refresh my memory.

In our latest What Kids Are Reading report, there’s no shortage of books that are enjoying a second life as a TV series or movie. A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird (Have you read Go Set a Watchman?)—classic books that will forever be included on a “most read” booklist. But there also quite a few newcomers that are getting students excited about reading. Books like The Fault in Our Stars, Divergent, and The Scorch Trials.

Take a look at three ways to use the report’s grade-level lists of popular books to introduce students to books they may not have considered before.



Pick a handful of the top fiction/nonfiction books in the What Kids Are Reading report, write down the titles on individual pieces of paper, mix them up, throw them in a hat, and have your students pick from the hat to see what they should read next. By only seeing the title and not the artwork, your students might read something they would’ve ordinarily passed on.



Without a doubt, I know some people will watch A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix without realizing that it is based on a book series. Test your students’ knowledge by quizzing them on various titles and ask what came first, the book or the movie/TV show. (Hint: It’s almost always the book!) Who knows, your students might even be shocked to find out some of their favorite Netflix binges are based on books! (I’m still waiting for an official Parks and Recreation book series.)



Do you find yourself always adding movies and TV shows to your Netflix queue? Have your students create their own queue of books to read next using the grade-level lists of popular books in the What Kids Are Reading report as a guide. Think of it as their Netflix queue. Have your students skim through some of the booklists and choose a variety of topics, difficulty levels, and titles that spark their interests. That way, when students finish what they’re currently reading, they can refer back to their list and find something else to tackle.


The possibilities are truly endless. As my Netflix queue grows, time seems more scarce. I have trouble finding time to sit down and watch all the amazing shows and movies I have queued up. However, that is part of the excitement, the thrill, of always having something to watch—just like students always having something to read. And although A Series of Unfortunate Events didn’t make the list in this year’s What Kids Are Reading report, I have a feeling it will make a resurgence in next year’s report.

How else do you use the What Kids Are Reading report with your students? Are you trying any of the ideas above? Share them with us on social! Haven’t seen this year’s report yet? Click here to receive your copy of the What Kids Are Reading report.

Looking to inspire your students? Share our bright, colorful bookmarks showcasing students’ top book picks based on the annual What Kids Are Reading report with them!

Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist
Ken Stoflet, Communications Specialist
Ken Stoflet is the communications specialist at Renaissance. He has been with the company since 2015 and can be found crafting anything from a press release to a tweet. In his spare time, Ken enjoys spending time with his friends, lifting, and making trips to the Frozen Tundra to cheer on the Green Bay Packers.


  1. Dvawn Maza says:

    I read some of the books and then talk to the students about it. They get excited when they know I’ve read it and am excited about it. Also, if I see them reading one I haven’t read, I ask them about it..and tell them to let me know if they liked it and if they suggest I read it… once they’ve finished reading it.

  2. Kelley Adcock says:

    I am going to try the Random Draw for literature circles.

  3. Christina says:

    random draw sounds awesome for Lit circles!

  4. Virginia D. Wiedenfeld, M.Ed. says:

    These are some great ideas! I can not wait to try out the “Random Draw,” The Guessing Game, and Add to List!

  5. Virginia D. Wiedenfeld, M.Ed. says:

    I was so excited about this information that I sent it to all our teachers!

  6. Rita Platt says:

    Random Draw reminds me of “book tastings”! FUN!

  7. Carly says:

    Here is something I was really excited to do with my class to inspire reading. We participated in a live Skype session with the author and illustrator of Dream Jumpers. I teamed up with our media coordinator who is now she is adding graphic novels to our library collection. The students were able to generate questions for the author/illustrator in the hopes that their question would be read allowed. The students enjoyed learning about how people can collaborate to create a book. It was so much fun. I’m including a link. My understanding, is there will be more of these live Skype opportunities.


  8. Sarah Swanzy says:

    I like the random draw idea.

  9. Renee Graham says:

    I show them the list and we see how many are on my personal classroom shelves. We tally who had read/who would like to read. I like the ideas in the article too!

  10. David Keech says:

    Even in my math classroom, I see students with novels and check in with them about what they are reading. I notice classics among their selections. I am going to use the WKAR to share what others are reading and offer suggestions.

  11. Melissa Robles says:

    I would love to try Random Draw with my students.

  12. Belinda says:

    Great tips….

  13. Marianne says:

    I really love the Random Draw idea. A lot of time the cover of a book is very misleading and causes students to not try it. I like the idea of just having them pick something from a hat that would be random.

  14. Keita Brooks says:

    I think I will also do the random draw and the book list. Great ideas:)

  15. P R says:

    I like these ideas. I also have my students read a novel within a unit of study that also has a movie presentation. I have the kids compare the written text to the movie as to what is the same and what is different. I also have the students to tell what they would add, omit, or change in the movie to make it more like the original book text.

  16. Jennifer Glasgow says:

    Random draw is a neat concept I will share with my teachers. I think it could work great for lit circles or whole group read–alouds. Another idea would be to write an event on index cards from several different books and let the students choose based on that- could lead to some surprising choices!

  17. Francine Canarios says:

    I include a Booksmall I Want to read page in my students reading binder every year. At least once a week, I pull about 10 books and read the back of the book to the class. I am always amazed by the immediate response from my students. That is all it takes to get students interested in new books. Afterms a couple of months the students take over and recommend their favorite books.

  18. Jennifer Bunn says:

    I might try Randon Draw since I do think that kids miss out on some great books when they use only the cover to make their choice.

  19. Chimere McRae says:

    Great tips!

  20. Terri says:

    I like the Add to List! Our students are working on a series challenge in the library this semester and I think knowing a good book to get next might inspire some to read more. Thanks.

  21. Meredith Sanders says:

    Random draw sounds cool! I’m going to share these tips with the reading teachers on my hall!

  22. Laura says:

    I had not thought of this! Great tip! Thanks!

  23. Kelsie says:

    Great ideas!

  24. Jennifer Enlow says:

    This is a great feature! I don’t teach literature right now and that feature will help me make better choices for my classroom library.

  25. Jennifer Slade says:

    I like the random draw idea!