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Guided Reading with Early Emergent Readers: Introducing a Level A Book

Michele Dufresne

For the next few weeks I will focus on guided reading with early emergent readers. This week, I demonstrate how to use a level A book with students. Level A books are written to meet the needs of the very beginning reader. I will explain what to look for when selecting a good Level A book, how to introduce the book to your students, and how to guide them as they read.

Selecting a Level A book

● A Level A book should be very simple, with only one line of text on each page.

● The illustrations should be simple and should clearly illustrate the text.

● The sentence on each page should be a complete sentence. A book that has a fragment, such as a bat, a ball, a mitt can be difficult to understand because this phrase is very different from the language students normally hear and use. Beginning readers expect language to sound like talking. It is much easier to understand a phrase when it is turned into a complete sentence: Here is a bat. Here is a ball. Here is a mitt.

 ● The story should use high frequency words. These are words that will show up in MANY other books. (I like to select books with the words I, my, go, to, the, is, we, can, like, here, and/or look because I know they will turn up in many other books.)

Daisy's Party Dresses - Level A - Pioneer Valley BooksDaisy's Party Dresses is an example of a level A book. Notice how clearly the picture illustrates the text and the high frequency words I, like, and my used on each page. You can preview the entire book by clicking on the "Read Online" tab.

Introducing a Level A book for guided reading

● Your book introduction should support the students and explain many details about the book. The goal is to have your students ready to successfully read the story.

● Provide a brief synopsis of the story.

● Say a line from the book and have the students repeat it. You may want to read the first page or two to them. (Note: I suggest this only at Level A and B.)

● Pick one or two high frequency words from the book and ask your students to find the words in a few places in the text.

For example, for Daisy's Party DressesI would provide a simple synopsis by saying, "This story is about all the dresses Daisy likes.” Then I would pick a line, such as I like my purple dress, and have the students say the line with me. I would follow by introducing them to high frequency words by saying, “What letter would the word my start with. Find the word my in your book.” 

Reading a Level A book

Ask students to start reading using their reading finger. (Note: I almost always ask students reading at levels A and B to read with a reading finger during guided reading. At level C, I ask them to stop using a reading finger because it will interrupt the development of fluency.)

The students may read together chorally at this level. Ask them to read with soft reading voices, but you shouldn’t be overly concerned about the choral reading at this level.

For an overview of Guided Reading, check out my six-part What is Guided Reading? series.

Michele Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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