Monday, April 20, 2020

Editor’s note: While learning at home, children can make progress toward grade-level reading and writing standards. This post is part of an ongoing series designed to help caregivers support children’s and teens’ literacy learning at home.

In order to help middle school and high school students continue practicing their reading and writing skills, next week we will be launching an Iowa Reading Research Center Book Study with daily assignments for teens to read and respond to sections of a book.

Beginning on Monday, March 23, we will be posting on the Iowa Reading Research Center Book Study group on Facebook and emailing to subscribers daily assignments for the novel Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert. This book is appropriate for students in Grades 7-12 and was one of our #FridayReads Recommendations. Watch the video below for a summary of this book.


Iowa Reading Research Center Book Study Details

For each of the next 24 weekdays starting on Monday (ending on April 23), we will be posting assignments on our Facebook group composed of the following:

  • An assigned chapter or chapters to read for the day.
  • A vocabulary word from the reading.
  • Some assignments will include an associated web-based, nonfiction resource to compliment what teens are reading in the novel.

After reading the assigned chapter(s), teens can follow a URL (or have it forwarded to them by their teacher or guardian) to a form where they will be asked a reflection question and prompted to write a response. Students can type directly on the form or copy-and-paste from a word processor application. Reflection questions may address themes, character traits and feelings, author’s craft, conflicts, or other literary elements.

When the book study ends, teens will be able to request a PDF of all their responses. They may want the responses for themselves, to share with family members, or to submit to a teacher.

Each week, we will select one or more exemplary teen responses to provide feedback for the whole group of participating readers on how to interpret the novel or to demonstrate a high-quality written reflection.

Because the daily assignments will remain on our Facebook group page, participants who join in on the book study a few days late or miss a daily assignment can go back to a previous post and get caught up. We understand this may be a stressful time for teens and their families, and we want to make this book study accessible, fun, and educational. We do encourage teens to get excited about reading this wonderful novel, to put effort into their responses, and to know that participation will help them continue to learn during this time away from school.

Next Steps for Those Interested in Participating

  1. Obtain the novel Conviction: Some suggestions:
    • Borrow the eBook version of Conviction from your local library: Most libraries offer eBooks to borrow for library card holders that live in the community the library serves. Visit your library’s website to search its collection of eBooks. Many libraries use OverDrive, which you can search here or from your library’s website. Note: If you borrow the book and later decide that you are not going to participate in the Book Study, please digitally “return” the eBook to your library. eBooks are just like hard copies in that libraries have a limited number of copies they can lend to patrons.
    • Borrow the eBook version of Conviction from your school library: Some middle and high schools offer eBooks for students to borrow. Visit your school library’s website to search its collection of eBooks.
    • Purchase the book from a local bookstore or online: This could be a good way to support a business in your community that remains open during these times. Some bookstores are selling books for curbside pickup or local delivery only, and others are shipping books to customers. Conviction is also available from large online retailers for home delivery.
    • For those with a financial hardship who want to be able to participate but cannot find the eBook to borrow, please contact us at We have a limited number of eBooks that we want to reserve for teens who do not have another option.
  2. Join our Iowa Reading Research Center Book Study group on Facebook: Be sure to join our group on Facebook, where we will be posting all daily assignments and any other information for the duration of the book study. The group is open to teens, family members, and teachers. We strongly suggest you or your teen change notifications to “All Posts” so you are notified when a daily assignment goes up.

Alternatively, if you prefer to participate by receiving emails with the daily assignments, sign up for our email subscriptions or add the Book Study to your existing subscriptions.

We hope you are as excited to join or encourage your teen to join our Book Study as we are to host it! If you have any questions, please contact us at