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You Oughta Know About Mystery Readers!




You oughta know about Mystery Readers!


I LOVE this idea for ANY grade level!

It’s simple. You enlist the help of your students’ parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and relatives to come into your classroom to read a story to your class. The best part…it’s a MYSTERY!

Your students will be so excited to see their relatives/friends in their classroom, reading them a story. Their classmates will also be filled with joy to see other parts of their friends’ families.

To get the Mystery Reader system set up in your classroom, you’ll need to follow these steps:
1.   Host a sign up at Back to School Night and send home an information letter.
2.     Keep your sign up sheet easily accessible throughout the school year.
3.     Offer a selection of quick stories and/or picture books.
4.     Create a cozy environment for the reading!
5.     Get your Mystery Reader clues ready for your class!

2. Host a sign up at Back to School Night:
It’s really important that you start the year off by letting your families know about this great opportunity in your classroom during your Back to School Night. In your Back to School Night paperwork, include an information sheet about the Mystery Reader process and details. Don’t forget to include available dates throughout the year. Here’s a copy of a letter I wrote for my Back to School Night to inform the parents in my classroom.

In addition to the informational sheet, I also place a sign up sheet in the back of the classroom.


More on this next step below…

3. Keep your sign up sheet easily accessible:
I remind parents to sign up on their way out. Once Back to School Night is over, I transfer everything to a Google Doc. I send home a link with the Google Doc for families to sign up online. I also keep the hard copy in my classroom, for any parents interested in coming in to sign up. Don’t forget to keep both copies updated so there is no confusion. On the sign up sheet, I have parents write down their name, child’s name, if they need a book, and their email address. The week of their scheduled day/time, I send them a reminder email with the day, time, book choice (if they said they already had one or not), and the directions of how to come into our classroom without ruining the surprise. And of course, they needed to email me FIVE clues about themselves that I could read to the class prior to their arrival. More about this on step number FIVE.

Here’s an example of my email:


Here’s a template for a sign up sheet.




Just insert it has an image into a PPT document, add text boxes to add your dates, print, and leave accessible for families.

4. Offer a selection of book choices:
I always ask my Mystery Readers if they’ll need a book to borrow for the reading, or if they’ll be bringing one of their own. A lot of the parents in my class chose to bring their own books. They would also bring a gift for the class (not mandatory of course J) that would match the book. For example, if the Mystery Reader brought If You Bring a Mouse a Cookie, they also brought cookies for the whole class. Just make sure your school’s rules allow for food gifts and all that good stuff.

5. Create a cozy environment for the reading:
I always set up a reading chair in our little reading corner. My kiddos would sit at the carpet, patiently waiting for the Mystery Reader to arrive. I also set up an additional chair for the Mystery Reader’s child to sit. They always loved sitting next to their reader that came by to visit! I would sit next to my group of students and make sure my behavior management was ON POINT! Most of my Mystery Readers did a good job reading, keeping the kiddos engaged, and making it a fun experience. My students were just so excited to have a guest in our classroom!

6. Get your Mystery Reader clues ready:
As I mentioned above, the Mystery Reader would email me five clues about themselves that I could read to the class. They could be simple clues, but not so simple that the class could easily guess who was coming to our class! They could be something like…
I have three children.
Breakfast is my favorite meal.
I love dogs.
ETC. ETC.

I would read these clues to my class the morning of the Mystery Reader’s visit. I would take five guesses and write these names on the board. My kiddos were excited to see if their guesses were correct!

So there you have it! SIX easy steps for conducting Mystery Reader in your classroom!

1.     Host a sign up at Back to School Night and send home an information letter.
2.     Keep your sign up sheet easily accessible throughout the school year.
3.     Offer a selection of quick stories and/or picture books.
4.     Create a cozy environment for the reading!
5.     Get your Mystery Reader clues ready for your class!

The families in my class had a lot of fun with this over the years! We had relatives from out of state come visit, grandparents, cousins, and older siblings.

Here's my mom as a Mystery Reader in my classroom! My mom was a teacher for 20 years, became an Assistant Principal, Principal, and is now the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for her district. She's the best mom and a phenomenal educator to look up to!




You can grab all of these printables for free from my TpT shop. Just click here!
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