Self-Selected Reading includes (and usually begins with) teacher read-aloud. The teacher reads to the children from a wide range of literature. Next, children read "on their own level" from a variety of books the teacher has gathered together and keeps on a bookshelf or (more popularly) in dishpans or buckets. The teacher selects books for the classroom library on themes they are studying, easy and hard library books, old favorites, new easy predictable books, etc. While the children read, the teacher conferences with and takes anecdotal records on several children each day. Some teachers choose to spend part of this block with a small group reading an "easy" book together and giving them instruction "on their level". The block usually ends with one or two children sharing their book with the class in a "reader's chair" format.
Making the Self Selected Reading Block Multilevel
Self selected reading is, by definition, multilevel. The component of self selected reading that makes it multilevel is the fact that children choose what they want to read. These choices, however, can be limited by what reading materials are available and how willing and able children are to read from the available resources. To make our self selected reading block as multilevel as possible:
Another way young children read books is by reading the pictures. This is usually done with an informational picture book on a topic of great interest to the child. The parent and the child have probably looked at "the airplane book" or "the dinosaurs book" many times, spending more time talking about the pictures than actually reading the words. In fact, some of these books have wonderful pictures and lots of sophisticated text and parents don't read the text at all, they just talk with the child about the pictures.
We teach our early first graders that they are three ways
to read. You can "pretend read" by telling the story of a familiar
story book. You can "picture read" by looking at a book about real
things with lots of pictures and talking about all the things you see in
the pictures. And you can read by reading all the words.
Early in the year, we model all types of reading and look at books and
decide how children at their age would probably read the book.
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a book you could pretend read because you know the story so well. Let's practice how you might pretend read it if you choose it for self selected reading time."
"How would you read this book about the zoo? It's got lots and lots of words in little tiny print but you could read it by picture reading. Let's practice picture reading."
"Now, here is an alphabet book. You see just one word and it goes with the picture. You can probably read this book by reading the words."
Once children know that there are three ways to read books, no child ever says, "I can't read yet!"
Teaching children that there are three ways to read--
pretend reading, picture reading, reading the words--is a variation only
used in first grade. Because we provide lots of easy reading
books on all kinds of topics, we expect our second and third graders to
read books by reading the words. If an individual second or third
grader need to begin at the pretend reading or picture reading level, we
do this with that child during the conference, not with the entire class.
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