Reading Writing

Choose Your Own Adventure for low level FVR readers

chooseLately I have been writing readers for level one, focusing on Terry Waltz´s “super seven verbs”. I have rediscovered a format that works perfectly for level 1: choose your own adventure. Did you read these as a kid? One short action-filled paragraph followed by several choices… “if you want the character to open the door, read page 16”. This format is perfect for the lowest levels for a variety of reasons:

(1) There is an interactive comprehension check on every page as students decide what they want to happen next. Better yet, it is not a dull set of comprehension questions. Instead it is a set of questions that students are intrinsically motivated to understand in order to continue with the reading

(2) The “choose your own adventure” format echoes the process of story-asking, allowing for even more student choice in reading and, potentially, more student buy-in

(3) Since students will all have different experiences with the reading, the format allows students to actively discuss the book without merely summarizing what they have read.

(4) Many choose your own adventure books are written from the perspective of the reader, asking “if YOU want to go to the store, read page 16”. Since the narrator is already speaking directly to the reader whenever the reader is asked to choose a direction for the plot, this format could easily be written to provide a lot of exposure to tú and yo forms.

(5) Writing this kind of novel consists of short paragraphs that move along quickly. Explore one possible outcome and, if that turns out disappointing, go explore another pathway. This is good for reader and writer alike!

Does this sound like a fun summer project?

If you answered YES, then keep reading.
If you answered NO, then click here.

Here is how I am putting together my CYOA novel:
Step 1
First, I start out with a 100 page template, which you can download by clicking here . You will notice that the pages are not in order, but once it is printed out double-sided and folded into a book then all of the pages will be in order.

Step 2
In order to start the novel, find page two in the template document that you just downloaded (above). You will make a text box that you will anchor in place so that it will not move once you add things to other pages. Here is how you do that with Microsoft Word: Click on INSERT and then SHAPES. Choose the rectangle under the RECTANGLES or BASIC SHAPES tab:
choose a shape

Step 3
Draw the rectangle on page 2 (leaving a good inch for the side margin). Right click on the edge of the shape and click on FORMAT SHAPE:
format the shape

Step 4
Click on FILL and choose NO FILL. Click on LINE COLOR and choose NO COLOR:
no fill no line

Step 5
Right click on the edge of the rectangle again and choose WRAP TEXT. Click on BEHIND TEXT so that your text box will not move, even when you add other text boxes. Change the font within the text box to black (the default is white). Once this is done (but before you start writing), RIGHT CLICK and COPY the text box so that you can just copy it onto other pages rather than making a new text box for each page.
anchor behind text

Step 6
I have been splitting the page into thirds: a section for the story, a section for the choices, and a bottom section for words that I will define. You will notice that I write X in place of page numbers until I have written that particular plot line:
page 2

Step 7
Then I scroll down to page 17, paste the empty text box that I copied in step 5 onto the page, and continue the plot line:
page 17

Do not worry about making each plot line equal in length… just pursue the idea until it is no longer interesting and end it quickly before it begins to die. It is better to leave your readers wanting more than thinking, gosh, that went on for too long!

Once you finish your novel please submit it to the cooperative FVR classroom library . We already have two novels published and 6 more on the way; in exchange for your hard work you´ll get a copy of everyone else´s novel.


  1. Use
    It’s a free interactive online storytelling website. I had my Beginner French students use this to create their own stories using acquired vocab.

  2. Thanks Mike. I agree with Mary. Super generous on your part. BTW are you presenting at the NTPRS or IFLT?

    1. I wish I were going! I have been looking at the sessions planned and there are so many that I would love to attend. If you do go to NTPRS, check out Bryce Hedstrom’s talk on light reading. Of course all of the presenters at IFLT are great too.

      I will be co-presenting with Crystal Barragán about FVR at ACTFL in San Antonio in November… it will be my first ACTFL conference. Get in touch if you go!

  3. I recently wrote a CYOA story in Keynote…laying that thing out so that it looped into itself but couldn’t double loop back in was one of the most confusing things I’ve done in a long time!!! Love this format!

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