Leveled Readers for Guided Reading

Leveled readers for guided reading are an integral tool in leading students towards reading proficiency. Learn how to use leveled readers during small-group guided reading instruction and how to build a leveled readers resource room.

What Are Leveled Readers?

Leveled readers are books organized by level of complexity, ranging from emergent readers, with short, simple sentences and accompanying pictures, to longer books with more advanced text and varying sentence structure. Leveled readers are used during small-group guided reading instruction.

Choosing Leveled Readers

In order to determine a student’s reading level, teachers use leveling systems, such as the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment Systems (BAS) or the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). Students are assessed using a running record, in which the teacher annotates the students’ reading habits such as errors, omissions, substitutions, and self-corrections. Students are then assessed on how well they comprehend the text with a rubric or asked to give a retell/summary of the text. Based on the reading miscues and comprehension check, the teacher determines a student’s instructional reading level. Books at a student’s instructional reading level are challenging, however, they are not frustrating. Determining students’ reading levels help teachers group students for small-group guided reading. As students’ reading skills improve, they move up the reading level continuum.

What is Guided Reading?

Guided reading is an instructional approach that allows teachers to provide individualized reading instruction in a small-group setting. The goal of guided reading is to help students develop and apply reading strategies independently.

In order to establish guided reading groups, teachers must formally assess all students at the beginning of the year to determine instructional reading levels. Based on the results, students are then grouped into small groups (3-6 students) according to similar instructional reading levels. Guided reading groups are flexible to meet students’ instructional needs as they move along the continuum. Teachers should formally re-assess students in the middle and at the end of the year to place students in the appropriate guided reading group, as well as to track student progress. Informal running records should also be conducted throughout the year to evaluate if a student should be moved to a more challenging guided reading group.

Guided Reading Lesson

During a guided reading lesson, the teacher provides students with the support they need to become independent readers. Guided reading lessons should be conducted daily with each guided reading group. A guided reading lesson should be between 15 to 20 minutes long. The teacher should choose an appropriate leveled reader prior to beginning the guided reading lesson. The steps to a guided reading lesson are as follows:

  • Before reading: A guided reading lesson typically begins with the teacher introducing a leveled reader. The teacher may go over new vocabulary words, assess and activate prior knowledge, and conduct a picture walk with students. In a picture walk, students look through the images in the book and make predictions about the text. Other before reading activities may include reviewing sight words or rereading a familiar text.
  • During reading: Once students have previewed the leveled reader, they begin to read independently either aloud or silently. The teacher may model reading the first page of the text depending on the grade level. Students can use tools like pointers or whisper phones while reading. During this time, the teacher is listening to students’ reading and taking notes as well as prompting students as they read.
  • After reading: After students have read the text, students engage in a peer discussion of the text and retell key details, like the main characters and the problem and solution. The teacher may then conduct a mini lesson on a particular comprehension skill, such as author’s purpose or text features. Other after reading activities may include practicing new sight words or spelling patterns and guided writing. Tools like magnetic letters can be used for spelling and sight word practice.

Throughout the guided reading lesson, the teacher should observe each student’s performance and record their progress and challenges. While the teacher is working with students in a guided reading group, the rest of the class should be further developing reading skills through literacy centers, like the word work center, listening center, and writing center.

Building a Leveled Readers Resource Room

In order to meet the needs of all students during guided reading groups, teachers should have access to various leveled readers of different genres as well as multiple copies of the same text. A leveled readers resource room, or leveled readers bookroom, holds the materials teachers need to effectively conduct guided reading groups.

Leveled readers resource rooms are filled with quality children’s literature, both fiction and nonfiction, and include a wide variety of text types (fantasy, biographies, myths, nonfiction narratives, informational text, mystery, etc.). The texts are typically leveled by a publisher who evaluates each book for quantitative and qualitative characteristics and then assigns a letter ranging from A (easy) to Z (challenging).

Using high interest books motivates students by sparking their imagination or by challenging their thinking. The relatable characters and events, and variety of topics appeal to students. By design, books in leveled readers resource rooms are filled with rich vocabulary, figurative language, and text structures that students can model in their own writing.

When building a leveled readers resource room, select titles that:

  • Are culturally relevant and accurate
  • Inspire students to think and ask questions
  • Represent different periods in history
  • Express truths and ideas

Leveled Readers Resources

VocabularySpellingCity provides pre-made word lists for thousands of leveled readers, making it easy for you to import the lists from these popular titles, assign activities, and expand your students’ vocabulary. Use these resources to supplement your daily guided reading instruction and lead students towards reading proficiency.