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A multimedia text set is a collection of books, articles, videos, and images related to a topic of study. Text sets allow students to explore a common theme or subject as they build background knowledge and develop vocabulary related to the topic. A text set could include fiction and nonfiction books, speeches, poems, videos, web resources, news articles, podcasts, and images.   

Build your own text set

There are many examples of text sets online, but you may want to build or adapt your own to meet the needs of your students. If you are just getting started, build a text set that meets your learning goals and incorporates texts that complement one another.

Step 1: Determine the learning goal

Define what students should learn from the text set. Consider the standards you will teach with your topic.

Step 2: Choose a target text

The end goal is for students to read a target text that meets your learning goal. However, this text may be challenging for some students if the text is too complex, due to gaps in prior knowledge, or if students don’t think the topic is relevant to their lives.

Your target text could be a work of literature or nonfiction, a textbook chapter, or a primary source document. The target text should be challenging, somewhat above grade level.

Step 3: Identify related resources

To make the target text accessible, plan at least three related sources to support learning: a visual text, an informational text, and an accessible text.

  • Audio, video, or images: Video, music, podcast, or photos that introduce the central theme are a good way to begin because it helps build background knowledge and vocabulary without requiring reading.
  • Informational text: Choose at least two additional texts to add background information. Choose a text that is slightly below grade level and at least one more that may near/at grade level for your students. Having a variety of texts available gives students more choices for reading.
  • Accessible texts: These texts connect the topic to student’s lives and help them see why the information is relevant. An accessible text might be an excerpt from a novel, current events article, or a webpage or blog. Choose a text that allows students to make connections between the topic and their own lives.

See more about text sets from the Iowa Research Center: Filling the Gaps: Text Sets Build Background Knowledge and Improve Comprehension of Informational Texts (opens in a new window)

Text set template

Subject or topic:
Learning goal:

1. Determine the target text(s)

TitleDescriptionGrade band

2. Choose audio, video, or images to introduce the topic


3. Choose informational text(s) at or near grade level

SourceDescriptionGrade band

4. Choose informational text(s) below grade level

SourceDescriptionGrade band

5. Select a picture, trade, or chapter book for listening


6. Think about how you will introduce the topic and plan ways for students to respond before, during, and after each text. Here are a few ideas to get you started.  

Before DuringAfter
  • Provide a conversation starter like a quote, text excerpt, video or image.
  • Introduce 2-3 key words and provide kid-friendly definitions and examples.
  • Use an anticipation guide  to make predictions to pique their interest.
  • Set a purpose for listening, watching, or reading.  
  • Stop a few times to talk about they learned and what is puzzling. 
  • Look for connections between the texts.
  • Encourage kids to ask questions.   
  • Use anchor charts to track thinking and learning.
  • Summarize together and connect back to key terms/ideas.
  • Ask students to draw, write, or act out ideas with peers. 
  • Ask students to do an exit slip to reflect on learning.

Text set resources

Sample text set from AdLit

Take a look at this text set on friendship from our sister site, AdLit. It includes conversation starters, quotes to prompt discussions and writing, anchor texts, music and videos, additional texts and resources, supports for recording and developing students’ ideas, writing prompts, and wrap-ups. Text Set: Friendship (opens in a new window)

Related resources