by Majmundar & Abel  2005

What is Guided Reading?

Guided Reading is an essential part of an early literacy program.

It is a context in which a teacher supports each reader’s development of effective strategies for processing text at increasing levels of difficulty. (Fountas and Pinnell)

The goal of Guided Reading is for students to become fluent readers who can problem solve strategically and read independently and silently.



In addition to a collection of books, there are a variety of other materials which teachers should have on hand when conducting Guided Reading groups.

  • chart paper, an easel or a whiteboard with dry erase markers nearby
  • "Post-it" notes
  • a variety of writing implements and paper
  • magnetic letters or other manipulative letters (especially for the early emergent and emergent levels)
  • sentence strips
  • index cards
  • a clipboard for note-taking to record information on the strategies and processing each student demonstrates during Guided Reading 

teacher holding folder Teacher Prep
Appropriately leveled reading materials must be selected for the group and each child should have his/her own copy of the text (readers).

Pre-Reading: The teacher establishes a purpose for reading through prediction making, vocabulary introduction, or discussing ideas that will provide the readers with the background knowledge required for the text.

girl reading

Student Prep

Before the beginning guided reading, teacher should prepare the students to:

  • Engage in a conversation about the story
  • Raise questions
  • Build expectations
  • Notice information in the text

check list

Bloom's taxonomy 

Guide Reading accomodates all levels of Bloom's taxonomy. In order to explain this better I have used an example of the story 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears'. After conducting the guided reading, children can demonstrate Bloom's Taxonomy levels as follows"

Knowledge –List the items used by Goldilocks while she was in the Bears’ house.

Comprehension – Explain why Goldilocks liked Baby Bear’s chair the best.

Application – Demonstrate what Goldilocks would use if she came to your house.

Analysis – Compare this story to reality. What events could not really happen.

Synthesis – Propose how the story would be different if it were Goldilocks and the Three Fish.

Evaluation – Judge whether Goldilocks was good or bad. Defend your opinion.

boy wearing thinking cap


  • Talk about the story with the children
  • Invite personal experience
  • Return to the text for one or two teaching opportunities such as finding evidence or discussing problem-solving
  • Assess children's understanding of what they read
  • Engage children in extending the story through activities such as drama, writing, art or more reading.


Classroom Rules and Procedures 

Guided Reading is a small group activity. When the teacher is engaged in guided reading with a group of students, other students should be engaged in various activities like reading silently, working at centers like the writing center or computer center. They should not engage themselves in any such activity that creates a noisy atmosphere in the classroom. Similarly, those students who are engaged in the guided reading activity should read silently so that they can only listen to themselves and make sure that they do not hinder the reading of their group mates.

teacher erasing board

Order of Events 

  • Students should be divided into small groups who are at about the same reading level. The younger the students the smaller the groups.
  • Guided reading lessons are to be about 15-20 minutes in duration.
  • Appropriately leveled reading materials must be selected for the group and each child should have his/her own copy of the literature.

Pre-Reading: Set me up for success - The teacher establishes a purpose for reading through prediction making, vocabulary introduction, or discussing ideas that will provide the readers with the background knowledge required for the text.

DURING Reading: Keep me interested; help me read well - The teacher observes the students as they read the text softly or silently to themselves. The teacher provides guidance and coaching to individuals based on her/his observations by providing prompts, asking questions, and encouraging attempts at reading strategy application.
AFTER Post Reading: Discuss, summarize, savor - The teacher asks questions to ensure that the text has been comprehended by the readers and praises their efforts. Further, the teacher may observe gaps in strategy application and address these gaps following the reading in a mini-lesson format.

students & teacher


For Students:

  • Students develop as individual readers while being involved in a supported activity.
  • Individual readers have the opportunity to develop and use reading strategies so they can read progressively difficult texts independently.
  • Students experience success in reading for meaning.
  • Students learn how to problem solve with new text independently.

For Teachers:

  • Teachers observe individual students as they problem solve new texts.
  • Teachers assess individual students using running records before or after the group.
  • Provides the necessary opportunity for teachers to explicitly teach reading strategies at the students’ individual levels.

  mouse looking worried Caution 
  • Don't spend too much time on the BEFORE stage.  The book should not be "that" hard!  No frustration levelsl!!  Begin easy if you are not sure. Bring backups, just in case. Only when your mentor teacher asks you to use a book that is too hard, do you use frustrational level, and when this happens, you jump in there to support so the child isn't frustrated into tears.  Kids need to be successful, especially in your eyes since you are new and important to impress!  The "before"  stage is to "excite" the students and to prepare them to have some SUCCESS.  
  •  Don't overdo the questioning in the DURING stage either. This stage is expected to keep them actively ENJOYING the book.  Don't overdo the teaching tips either.  Use the "teachable moment" and step in if it gets too tough but don't kill the reading "trip" and don't interrupt so much or make it so hard that meaning is lost.  YOU like to read a good book in peace; so do they!  Don't turn them off to reading while trying to turn them on.  
The reason we use guided reading is because the research says that when kids read with a "wise" teacher, that "wise" teacher can say appropriate & "timely" things to them that spur them onward to better reading. Guided reading is to be done with a wise teacher, not at home with parents.

When you send books home with kids, they should be at independent level--something they CAN read and be proud of reading to parents--something they CAN read and ENJOY.

Emergent level - appropriate:  usually YOU do the reading, sometimes pointing to the words as you read / take picture walks, focus on language development, notice reading go left to right, find letters we know on the page, put stickies in the spaces between the words (when you use big books), find words we know, encourage students to "share" in the reading of parts we recognize and remember, re-read if they are enjoying it, and love every minute. Note: some teachers treat their students to a little snippet daily to "wet their appetite."  You may choose not to extend this over a week's time....thus, getting more "reading" in than story props, etc. for your strugglers that need "time on task" and more and more reading "time."  Remember: we are showing them how much fun reading can be and they are joining in as they feel confident in doing so.  We are taking every opor to show them print, words, and how this thing called reading happens. When they begin to "share" in the reading, it makes them feel like readers even though you are providing a LOT of support.  Soon they will 'fly' on their own.  That's when you begin teaching them strategies to help them become better, more accurate readers.

Beginning readers - appropriate:  THEY now do the reading and you help - use this opportunity to model and teach them "reading strategies".....Sound it out, does that make sense, let's read that again (to keep meaning in tact), what's that first sound,  cover up part and then you can read it, let's read that again, would you do that,  what do you think will happen next. They should be enjoying this. If it is too hard, back down a level or two.  Confidence is building here.  Don't lose them!

Readers - goal is to "enjoy" this reading as you build fluency and interest in reading more and more and more.  Turn them ON to reading so they will go home and read more.   Get them hooked on a favorite author or theme; find out what THEY want to read about.  Build vocabulary by teaching them the hard words before they begin reading so they expect them and know their meaning and review those words so they don't forget them next week. Comprehension is key.  Critical reflection and good healthy discussion is ideal and might be triggered if you select the right book(s).  Don't worry; you don't have to always be asking questions that have answers.  Don't turn them off to reading; reading is to be ENJOYED.

Food for thought:

When kids go home and read 10 minutes a day............grades are generall C level
When kids go home and read 15 minutes a day............grades are generall B level
When kids go home and read 30 minutes a day............grades are generall A level


Mrs. Wishy Washy

Kindergarten Example

Guided Reading with Mrs. Wishy Washy

Grade Level: K

Materials Required: props: scrub brush, soap, apron, animal masks, big book, markers, sentence strips

Day 1: Props: Bring in a scrub brush, soap, and maybe even an apron and slippers. Dress a child up in them and talk about what these things are used for.
Picture Walk: Notice the scrub brush and soap again, then read the title. What are the animals doing? Do they look like they are having fun? How can you tell? Notice the duck's big feet. What do you think Mrs. WW is saying on pp. 9, 10? Stop on p.15 and predict what the animals will do next. Then go back to the beginning and read the book straight through.

Day 2: Invite the children to join in the reading. After reading aloud, ask them to identify the *characters* and discuss the following questions: When did the animals get back in the mud? What might happen next? If you were Mrs. WW, what would you do? Which animal is your favorite? How do you think the animals feel when she speaks to them? Does Mrs. WW remind you of anyone you know? How?

Day 3: Ask the children to listen for patterns of repeated words, in the story today. Prompt them as needed. After reading aloud, have them point out the s's--introduce the /s/ and /sh/ sounds. When they find a word with an s, say it aloud and have them make the shh! gesture if they hear a /sh/.

Day 4: Together, plan a motion for each character getting in the mud and for the wishy washy phrase. During reading, the children do the motions. Afterwards, divide the children in teams and give each team a sentence strip to match to the book.

Day 5: Choral read together, then act out the story. You can use masks for fun or omit them. Have one group of children be the cows, one the pigs, one the ducks, and make 3-4 children Mr. and Mrs. Wishy Washy.

Afterwards: Add the props of the soap, brush, apron, and small beanie baby animals or stick puppets to a basket for retelling the story. There are other Mrs. Wishy Washy books to read and add to this basket as well.


Learning More About Guided Reading; I.C. Fountas & G.S.Pinnell; 1999

Clip Art: ;;;