First Chapter Friday has become a beloved tradition in my classroom. I love trying to pick out books that will draw students in and then checking each week to see who wanted to read it. Last year, I shared an article about how I do warm up time and First Chapter Friday, as well as sharing a few of my favorite novels for FCF. Since doing that that list, I've done a whole new year of novels and I have even more ideas. To make this list, I looked through the novels that most piqued my students interest and pulled them in!
1- The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton- This is a memoir by a wrongly-accused, now-exonerated man on death row. The first few pages are heartbreaking and thought provoking. A lot of my students watched or read Just Mercy over the summer and were interested in this book because of it. I was a little nervous about doing a non-fiction selection, but my students really liked it and it was a great way to start a discussion on wrongful incarceration.
2- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab- When I finished the prologue of this novel, my students were DEMANDING that I keep reading. This dreamy novel is perfect combination of history and contemporary, fantasy and romance. It's one of my favorite novels of 2020 and my students loved it too! It's a bit more adult (not YA), so I would only preview it to older high school students.
3- All We Have Left by Wendy Mills- The first chapter of this book is so gripping and terrifying. It starts with two kids seeing a tower of the World Trade Center collapse and realizing that they need to get out soon before they die. It's a good book to talk about 9/11 and Islamophobia with students. And after listening to first chapter, they'll definitely want to read more.
4- Harrow Lake by Kat Elis- I'm not a big horror reader at all, but if your students are, this one will definitely hook them. The first chapter is a dialogue between a documentary producer and a film director as they talk about a mysterious town and disappearance of the the director's daughter. The dialogue sets up just enough to intrigue readers and hint at something sinister.
5- The Last 8 by Laura Pohl- Not every first chapter ends with an alien invasion, but this one does! This novel is packed with lots of inclusion, as well as "The 100"-esque survival and science fiction plot line. Students were really captivated by the first chapter when the science fair turned into an attack by aliens.
6- You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson- This opening scene is positively cinematic with high school students performing a full on musical number. It will definitely hook your students and pull them in, which is good because... this book is amazing! It's definitely a must-read for all high school ELA teachers.
7- Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins- Okay, no lie, this is my favorite YA of all time and I love the opening. Anna's voice pops right off the page and pulls your right into Paris, France. After reading this opening, I had several students fighting over my copy (and several more once they told their friends about it)!
8- Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young- The first chapter of this novel is full of action and bad*ss lady viking warriors! This beautiful YA novel is a stunning balance of mythology, action, romance, and lush Norwegian landscapes. If your students are all playing Assassins Creed Valhalla, this will be a perfect novel to use for a FCF.
I can't wait to share a new list with you next year! Let me know what your favorite FCF novels are in the comments below.
I'm Megan and I teach high school ELA. I'm all about literature, creativity, and aesthetics!