Engaging Emerging Readers (Book Study)

It’s the second week of our book study on The Reading Strategies Book, by Jennifer Serravallo.  And I’m LOVING this book so much!!

If you’ve missed this book study, you can catch up with these links!
Getting Started
Goals 1 & 2: Emergent Reading and Engagment
Goals 3 & 4: Decoding and Fluency

{affiliate links are included in this post}

This week we are talking about Goals 1 and 2: Supporting Emerging Readers and Engagement.  For me, these two goals go hand in hand…so, let’s look at them separately and keep in mind how they relate too!

Goal 1: Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emerging Readers

It probably wasn’t until I had my own kiddo at home that I was super passionate about these little readers.  Through parenting, I learned that a few things were vitally important to the success of my kiddo as a “conventional reader” as Serravallo calls it!  It’s imperative that my son knows that he CAN read.  Even when he couldn’t conventionally read.  He CAN hold a book.  He CAN retell a story.  He CAN infer based on the pictures and what he is reading.  He CAN learn new vocabulary.  So many times, we say things that make our pre-emergent readers aware that they “CAN’T” read… and then they’re less motivated or ENGAGED in reading to even try! 🙂 I’m more aware now than ever that we must watch our language with our own kids and our school babies! #steppingofsoapbox

I loved so many strategies in this section, but I’ve narrowed it down to 2 for the sake of time! 🙂

Strategy 1.7: Act It to Storytell It

This is a favorite in our house.  Cooper LOVES reading in character voices.  He loves copying our voice after we read to him– “Let me try, Momma!”– and he even loves making his stuffed animals look like the characters in the story.  Talk about making a little on feel like he is a REAL reader.  This strategy helps him feel a part of the reading, while also giving him the chance to hear and practice fluent and expressive reading.

And….let’s talk about how engaging it is to listen to and practice character voices! {See how connected these goals are???}  I’m just a firm believer that significant time spent reading aloud, talking about books, and modeling fluent reading, is a prime indicator of how ENGAGED readers will be when they begin to read independently.  And in the last year, through parenting experiences, I’ve come to believe that this time spent may be the single most important factor in reading success later on in life.  Looking back over my 10 years in the first grade classroom, I can definitely pick out kids who were and were not read aloud to, who had or didn’t have parents and adults that talked about books or modeled fluent reading!

Our favorite stories to do this with are Elephant and Piggie Books.  These books are FULL of opportunities for character voices and acting out!  They are short enough that my guy can easily say, “Let me try!” after I read a speech bubble and he can imitate my fluency!

Strategy 1.2: The WHOLE and Teeny Tiny Details

I absolutely LOVED this concept and it was something I have not directly done with kids before… Yay for new ideas!  The basic idea is to go back through a story after you’ve read it and use your finger to circle the whole page and answer what it is about.  Then, use your finger to point to one teeny tiny detail and describe that.  This is such a great way to work on summarizing, main idea, and supporting details with emerging readers…and another great way for parents to talk about stories with their kids!  I especially love this with non-fiction books!

Goal 2: Teaching Reading Engagement

I remember many years having first graders–mainly boys–who couldn’t care less about reading.  And unfortunately these were almost always my kiddos who were struggling a little in reading also.  Many times, what I noticed was that if I could just get these kids to a guided reading level F, they would be set.  It seems like many of the books available to read below an F just aren’t that engaging content wise–especially for boys.  Yes, we tried non-fiction readers as much as possible, but it just seemed like around E-F it started clicking and they were engaged and reading suddenly!

Like I mentioned earlier, engagement is such an important key to reading success and it starts early.  I love how Serravallo says,

“Sometimes to help students with engagement, you need to work on comprehension.”

Yes!  That’s why I believe pre-emerging skills and engagement are tied so closely together!  But when it is JUST engagement, this was my favorite strategy from the book…

Strategy 2.1: A Perfect Reading Spot

I love this so much.  And with flexible seating being the way to go these days, it really can be easy to do!  I left the classroom on “mommy leave” before flexible seating became super popular, but even then, my classroom was set up with several options: pillows, chairs, stools, an old desk, and the original flexible seat…THE FLOOR! 🙂

I loved letting kids find their favorite book nook and did find that something that simple did help kids focus on their reading better.

And I adore this anchor chart she had in the book.  Totally wish I would’ve used this when I was in the classroom!

Student choice is so important.  And empowering them to make them feel like they have control over what is happening can be so powerful….and the key to good engagement!

What were your favorite strategies from Goals 1 and 2?