Four kinds of reading 


            A balanced program in which children learn to read has four different types of reading. More and more classroom teachers recognize the differences among these approaches. I present this to you for two reasons:

            1. This can help you to determine if your childís teacher is presenting a balanced program.

            2. Parents who reflect this at home can help to give their children the same type of support for reading that they are getting in school.

Reading aloud

            The teacher or parent selects a book that is read to the children. The adult does all the reading. Children respond to pictures, meaning, and language in the book. They may join the adult if they know the book well or they may respond to the illustrations, meaning, and language, but they usually do not read the print.  

Shared reading

            In the classroom, the teacher has either a large version of the book (big book) that all the children can see or reads a smaller version of the book while the children look at their copies. On subsequent readings, as the children get to know the story better, they usually join in. The adult gives a high level of support. Children can hear each other read and may help each other. If the teacher is reading a big book version of the story, he may use a pointer or ask a child to follow the text with a pointer.

Guided reading

            The adult chooses and introduces a new book. She may talk about some of the features (illustrations, concepts the children may not know, situations that will be presented in the book), and does not read the book. A guided reading book will be written at the same level as books the reader has read before. The vocabulary is within reach of the reader. It is up to the child to solve problems of how to read new words. The adult is there to help, if needed.

Independent reading

            Children read individually or with partners. The adult does not have to help in any way. The reader can solve problems throughout the text.  

This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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