Library Skills


At the 1st-3rd grade level, students are just beginning to learn about nonfiction text features, information resources, and reference books. Students may be used to relying on internet search engines and smart phones, but even those sources may be incomplete and send students to other sources for further reading. Knowing how to use print resources will assist students throughout life and in higher academic settings.

Library Skills Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about Library Skills
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice on Library Skills
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 1-3 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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The lesson helps students understand the importance of libraries and the information they can find there. The lesson suggests the teacher create a chart along with students, listing the various types of print resources they can find in the library and how to use them. The lesson also recommends discussing text features with your students, such as the table of contents, headings, graphs, the glossary and index. Knowing how to use print resources will assist your students as they continue in their academic careers.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction: 

  1. For this lesson, you will need a computer or laptop (a picture will do), a smartphone or image of one, several nonfiction books (try to include some on health household or car repair, or how to types of books), a dictionary, and an almanac and atlas if you have them. Cover them with a large blanket in the center of your gathering area.
  2. Call students together and say “What if you want to visit someone in a town that’s far away and you don’t know how to get there? Or you need to know how to take care of your pet when it’s sick? Or you need to find out a meaning of a word you don’t know? What can you do to find the answers?” Let students respond. They might suggest look it up on the internet, call someone, call a vet, ask someone/ask a parent. State that those are valid ideas.
  3. Say, “Part of school is helping you learn things that you need to know in a classroom, and part is helping you learn how to solve problems and answer questions that you need to know outside of school, in your everyday lives.  A lot of times when your parents need to find out information, they might use these-” (at this point pull back blanket to reveal computer and phone), “but you may not always have those tools. It is important for you to learn to use these-” at this point uncover all the books, “to find information and answers to help yourselves solve problems. Sometimes when you use a computer or make a phone call to find help, you’ll get some information and then you’ll need to use another resource to find out more information.”
  4. Introduce the dictionary, almanac, atlas, and nonfiction books of various types. As you hold up each one and read the title aloud, ask the students what they know about the book from the type or the title. Ask them “What do you think this book can help you find out? Where can you find this type of book?”
  5. After introducing all books, state “You can find all these resources and more, as well as computers, videos, audiobooks, and CDs at libraries. Classroom libraries, school libraries, and public libraries have different types of materials available. For this lesson, we’ll be using our classroom library to get familiar with different materials you can use to find information and get answers to questions. When you can use text resources to find information and you learn how to use different texts, we call that library skills. We are going to build basic library skills this week.”
  6. Create an anchor chart for using resource materials as shown below. If you are not planning to use an almanac, you can either remove the third column, or add a different resource instead.
    Dictionary Nonfiction Texts Almanac
    What information can I find here? The spelling, meaning, and origins of words. Sometimes you can find charts, tables, and images that provide information about rules of language and words.


    How do I use it?

    The dictionary is arranged in alphabetical order. Use the guide words at the top of each page to let you know the range of words on the page (first word to last word). Skim down the list of words on the page in order to find the word you need!

    What information can I find here? Information about any factual topic you choose! You can learn how to make, fix, or build something from books that provide instruction. You can learn about scientific and historical topics, people, and places.


    How do I use them? Read the book guided by TEXT FEATURES. Text features include table of contents, photographs, captions, charts, tables, and graphs, bold words, glossary, and  index. These features will help you find specific answers and information you need about the topic.

    What information can I find here?

    Information about the world, including political, geographical, and pop culture figures updated each year.


    How do I use it? Use this tool to look up current information that may change on a regular and recent basis, like populations of countries, presidents and kings, award-winning books and movies, and weather patterns.

    1. Lead students through the first activity- text feature identification. You will need any nonfiction text that has a variety of text features. If you are unable to find an example you really like, please use this . It is very clear and explicit with colorful visuals. As you walk through the text features, explain the purpose and typical location of each one if applicable.  Here is a list of suggested verbiage:Table of contents: Typically found in the front. It tells you the titles of chapters or sections of the text. It can give you a clue about what section you will find the information you need.Chapter titles/Section headings: Found at the beginning of chapters and sections. These tell you what the chapter or section will be about.Subheadings- Found within a chapter at the beginning of smaller sections. In the chapter, there may be several related topics. Each topic will be introduced with a subheading within a chapter or section.

      Photographs: Found throughout the text. They show you visual examples that go with the text.

      Captions: These go beside or underneath photographs and illustrations. They explain who is in the photo, or what is happening in the photo.

      Special types of print: Bold or italicized words are found through the text, these words are either unfamiliar, or super important to the material in the text, so they stand out from regular print.

      Graphs, Tables, and Charts: These are found throughout the text. Charts, tables, and graphs shows you how information and data are organized and presented in an easy to read format, not just in words.

      Maps: Found when the text wants to show the location of something.  The map shows where a place or object is located.

      Glossary: This is typically found near the end of the book. It contains definitions of important and unfamiliar words from the text.

      Index: Found at the end of the book, it is an alphabetical list of topics and subjects the book covers. It tells you the place where the subject is covered in the book.  Unlike the table of contents, which only tells you titles of chapters, this tells you where many more items in the book are located.

      1. Once you are done walking through the text features, assign your students the first activity page to complete with a partner. When they are done completing that, go over answers as a whole class.

      9. Have students complete the practice page with a nonfiction text from the classroom library. They will complete a text feature scavenger hunt.  If you do not have a large amount of texts, or  you need to pair a weaker reader with a stronger reader, this can be done in partners. When completed, have students come to you with the sheet and text they used so you can ensure they completed it correctly and can identify the text features.

      1. Assign homework- to make your own text feature booklet using a topic of student choice. It may take several days to complete, so assign it on this day to get students started. Go over student directions and take any questions. Before students leave for the day, make sure everyone tells you their topic.

Common Core State Standards: 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.5, RI 3.5, and  RI 1.5, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI. 1.7, 2.7, 3.7

Class Sessions (45 minutes): 4 class sessions

Additional Resources:

Want more reading resources?  Check out our other Reading Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade