BLOGS  >  AUGUST 27, 2020

Adapting the 20 Book Challenge for Elementary Students


At my school, we’ve found a really impactful and engaging way to keep students reading all year – the 20 Book Reading Challenge, which was inspired by Donalyn Miller. As we shifted to distance learning, our schoolwide 20 Book Reading Challenge was easily adaptable for our students and staff.

Recently I presented a webinar on our SWMS 20 Book Challenge and I had tons of questions from attendees about how such a program could work for the K-5 elementary audience.

The basics of our program is that we challenge all our students, staff members, families and community members to read 20 different books from 20 different categories (example: a state award book, a graphic novel, a book recommended by a friend, etc.). You can check out examples of past challenges and a blank form here. Once they’ve read the book, they jump over into Google Classroom and use a Google Form to log their book by responding to a prompt that makes them think about the story and then write a response. I read their responses and then give them credit for the book or I send feedback on how to revise their response to demonstrate that they actually read the book.

This works really well for our middle school and it has worked really well in the high school setting too. Several elementary schools have also adapted this to serve their students.

Ways to adapt the challenge:
• Shift from 20 books to 15 or 10.
• Include picture books and book categories that are really approachable for your students such as graphic novels, books under a certain page number (75 pages or less), etc.
• Include books read as a class and teach the students how to log them.
• Do an oral response through video, in person, etc., for little learners who may not be able to write responses well.
• Adjust your response questions based on the age and need of the students. For younger learners this may be as simple as “What was your favorite part and why?” versus asking older learners to provide some textual examples or evidence to support their opinion.

This is a great way to encourage the whole school community to work together toward encouraging literacy growth. You can use eBooks, audio books, print books, or whatever is available.

If you’d like to see the data of how much growth our students have had with this program, I’d encourage you to watch the free webinar. If you’d like to bounce ideas of how this could work with your school, please reach out to me. I’d love to work with you to implement something similar with your school community.

Media Specialist
Southwest Middle School
Palm Bay, Florida

Carrie Friday is the Media Specialist at Southwest Middle School in Palm Bay, Florida, and a 2018-2019 Teacher of the Year Finalist for Brevard Public Schools. She isn't afraid to take risks and will do just about anything to encourage the love of literacy in students and teachers. She is one of the co-founders of the #swms20bookchallenge and a total YA author fangirl. She is a chapter leader of her school’s Project Lit Community chapter, a committee member for the Florida SSYRA 6-8 selection committee and on the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) nominations committee. She believes in innovation, collaboration and the power of really good books. You can connect with her through email at or on Twitter @CarrieFriday. You can also follow along with her adventures in the Media Center at

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