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Ministry of Education.

Independent reading and the Ready to Read series

Independent reading contributes to literacy learning. To become confident, self-motivated readers, students need to build up their “reading mileage” on familiar texts, such as Ready to Read texts.

Opportunities for independent reading

The crocodiles Christmas jandals. Students will read independently in the classroom at many times – when the teacher is working with other groups, during whole-class silent reading sessions, when they finish activities ahead of time, before school, during interval or lunchtime, or during the class library session. The students may read alone or to a buddy, a friend, a parent, or a student from an older class.

Opportunities for independent reading include:

  • reading texts that students have created during language experience activities
  • reading small versions of Ready to Read big books (once they have become very familiar with the big book through multiple shared reading sessions)
  • rereading the texts introduced during guided reading lessons
  • rereading familiar favourite stories, poems, and song charts.

Designing an independent reading classroom

Many teachers make up “independent reading” boxes of familiar, easy texts for each reading group. Often, these will be books that the students have previously read during guided reading lessons and can now read easily. The students read from these boxes every day and choose their home readers from there too.

The aim is to encourage the enjoyment of favourite books and to develop fluency. The high-interest topics of Ready to Read texts will continue to delight and reward students after many rereadings.

Support your students to develop their own reading preferences and book selection skills. Provide a rich, print-saturated classroom environment, with poem cards, big books, song lyrics, captions, shared writing, published writing, topic books, and library books available. Fill the class library corner with a wide variety of reading material so that the students have a broad view of what reading is.

In years 2 and 3, start reading chapter books without illustrations so that students can learn to visualise a story for themselves.

Encourage the students to develop independent reading habits by reading the first one or two chapters, then leaving the books for students to finish in their own time.

Make visiting the school library an exciting event. Teach students about the various sections in the library and about how to find books on topics that interest them. Teach book selection skills, and encourage the students to take books home to read or for a family member to read to them.

Reading at home

Students love to take home books that have been read to them at school. Enclose a bookmark that has messages for families and whānau, such as, “This is a book for us to share” or “Please read this book to me” or “I can read this to you.”

It’s helpful if families and whānau understand how they can support their children’s reading. Some schools may hold information sessions to clarify what students are expected to be able to do with the books they bring home and how they can be supported. Encourage families and whānau to read to their children, tell them stories, and talk with them about the books they are reading.

For English language learners, fluency in their first language supports their learning of English. Encourage families and whānau to talk about the reading materials in their home language rather than English in order to support deeper level thinking. It’s also helpful if English language learners can have books available in their first language for them to take home for family and whānau members to read to them. Many school and community libraries have student books in a range of different languages.

Background information

For information about independent reading, see pages 100–101 of Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1 to 4.

Updated on: 20 Nov 2014