Last year, my friend Ann was so excited when she chose a leveled reader for her guided reading group and saw that I’d written it. Her students were thrilled that she knew the author and really enjoyed the topic—rescuing dogs after a natural disaster. But when they finished, they didn’t learn anything about me or the other books I’d written.
“It was disappointing,” said Ann. “The kids thought the book was great and wanted to learn all about you and how you came up with the idea. They also wanted to read other books you’ve written or other books on a similar topic.”
I sat down to talk with Ann, and her enthusiasm for guided reading kicked in immediately. We realized it would be great if the leveled reader books came in sets or recommended other books on similar topics.
“The kids love fiction stories with animal characters and informational texts about how things work. If they find a topic they like, they love reading. But sometimes, the books aren’t in series or sets, so we have to choose at random. And sometimes, books about similar topics are leveled differently, so they might love a book about volcanoes in one level, but another book about volcanoes is at a different level.”
We also talked about how she’d love to see video links in teacher’s guides. “I search for videos all the time because the kids want to know more or be ‘rewarded’ at the end of a book. Videos can also draw the kids in before they read. One book about seals gave some links, and the kids loved it! I want to see more of that in the teacher’s guides.”
“Students love to learn interesting things and enjoy fun facts as a before-reading exercise. It makes them want to keep reading if they’ve already learned something about the topic. The KWL charts and other prereading activities we see aren’t really that helpful or fun.”
Honestly, I don’t see any reason why Ann’s recommendations can’t be done. Authors can write books in series and sets at the same level. We can give recommendations about related books to teachers so they can keep their kids interested. Let’s provide writer profiles and list other books the author has written. Additionally, when we write teacher’s guides for books, we can add fun facts that really make students want to read more and provide age-appropriate video links and “for more on this topic” suggestions. If we want to make our guided reading programs really shine and meet teachers’ and kids’ needs, we should give them what they want. Cool books, reading suggestions, fun facts, and video links!
To learn more about CSA Education’s work with guided readers, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.