How to Create High-Quality Anticipation Guides

Did you know that Shakespeare gives away the ending of Romeo and Juliet in the play’s prologue?

romeo and juliet prologue

Even though we know at the outset how the play will turn out, we’ve been reading, watching, and revering Romeo and Juliet for hundreds of years because the really juicy part of it isn’t the outcome of the tomb scene.

I say that to say that we’re not going to ruin a great book by giving kids a little heads up about what’s to come in a story. In fact, especially if you have a child who struggles with comprehension, I recommend it. That’s not to say that you need to give away the big stuff like Shakespeare did, but a well-crafted anticipation guide can help to guide your student reader to what you’d like him or her to notice in the story.

There are a lot of ways to write an anticipation guide, and there are a lot of ready-made anticipation guides floating around on the Internet. Know, though, that not all anticipation guides are created equal. At worst, anticipation guides are fluffy busy work. At best, anticipation guides help focus kids’ attention and encourage higher-level thinking about a text and guide discussion.

Whether you’re looking online for an anticipation guide for a book or you’re throwing together your own anticipation guide for a book, these are the three high-quality components that I recommend be included in an anticipation guide.

How to CreateHigh-QualityAnticipation Guides pinterest

The 3 Components of High-Quality Anticipation Guides

1. A true/false , yes/no, or agree/disagree format

Items are listed as statements. The student should read the statements prior to reading, which helps to steer the student’s attention during reading.

2. Items that occur at three levels: comprehension, inference, and judgement
Comprehension-level items simply assess whether a student understands the story elements. When developing these items, be sure to paraphrase, which helps to encourage close reading. If items are phrased as they appear in the text, students might slip into skimming for answers.

Inference items ask students to apply their background knowledge and information from the text in order to make a conclusion. Not sure what I mean by that? Here’s a simple example… Let’s imagine that in a book about a 5th grade class, the teacher asks everyone to put on their snow boots and coats before heading outside for recess. The reader can use his or her background knowledge to understand – or INFER – that the story must be set during winter.

Judgement items don’t necessarily have clear answers. Judgement items ask the reader to form an opinion based on the evidence. Is a character good or bad? Was the protagonist’s choice right or wrong? Is the ending fair or unjust?

3. Space for the student to supply the evidence that supports his or her answer

When a student encounters evidence in the text that either proves or contradicts a statement, he or she should note the page number from the text and underline or highlight the evidence in the text. This evidence can then be used in discussion as well as a starting point for literary analysis writing.


To help you get a better idea of how all of these elements should come together, I’ve created an example anticipation guide for Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Wintergirls Anticipation Guide Image


Get the printer-friendly FREE download HERE.

Wintergirls Anticipation Guide pdf

What else would you like to know about creating or using anticipation guides? Share your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to know what questions you have so that I can keep them in mind as I write a follow-up post about how to use anticipation guides.

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