Balanced Literacy: Independent Reading

Modeled ReadingShared ReadingGuided ReadingIndepend. Reading

Modeled WritingShared WritingGuided WritingIndepend. Writing

Independent Reading

During Independent Reading, students continue to practice what they've learned during Modeled/Shared/Guided Reading.  Independent Reading offers students additional opportunities to read.  In order to become proficient readers, students must be provided with opportunities to read, read, and read some more!  Everyday we have Reader's Workshop where we participate in shared, modeled, and guided reading activities.  During these times we have a short minilesson focusing on the strategies readers use to decode and understand the texts they read.  Students put into practice what we learn when they choose a Reading Option during Independent Reading times, which include the options of LISTEN TO READING, PARTNER READING, and READING TO SELF.  While students are reading/writing independently, I meet with readers for Guided Reading and conferring.     

Browsing Box Book Shopping SMARTBoard Timer Page

After semester one, I have students begin recording the books they've read for the day.  They take the recording sheet home at the end of the day.  I've also had them graph the number of books read over a month's time too.  And, sometimes, I have them read to 100 books and record them.  I like to change things up every now and then after first semester, to give us something new and fresh and offer students a little more variation in their routine. 

During Read to Self or Read with a Partner, students select big books, posters, charts, classroom library books, and class-made books.  The books they select to read are "Just Right" books - - at or below their independent reading level.  On Fridays, I allow students to select books that are above their level (animal nonfiction books are very popular choices!). 

Reader's Workshop minilessons focus on reading strategies, behaviors, and expectations.  Students are encouraged and expected to apply what they learn about during their Reading Options time.  Below you will find several ideas for Read to Self, Listen to Reading, and Partner Reading materials, activities, and resources.  Some are geared toward Kindergarten, while others will fit both K and 1st.

Options, Pictures, and Resources:

Leveled Emergent Reader Books

Our school provides each classroom with a set of leveled readers.  These books are leveled by color to correlate with the Fountas and Pinnell leveling system and also by number to correlate with the Reading Recovery leveling system.

Leveled Book Publishers & Resources:

Rigby    Wright Group    Pacific Learning    Harcourt Canada   Leveled Reader    Gardner Education    Mari Inc.  

Scholastic   Reading A-Z    Keep Books     Wil Books    Growing Little Readers   Emergent Readers     Lef Books    

Classroom Books

I've purchased and collected over 2,000 books for our classroom library.  They are sorted by genre, topic, or author.  Bins were purchased from various stores including Big Lots, Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Wal-Mart, Target, Shopko, and Hobby Lobby.  The picture below is outdated.  I currently have most of my books in black wire bin baskets that I purchased at Shopko.  Each book and bin is labeled.  Bins have business card labels that are attached to the bin using either nametag card holders from Wal-Mart or stick on business card pouches from Office Max.  Each bin also has a number on it.  Books are labeled with address-size labels (Avery 8160).  Books also have a name stamp and number sticker (to correlate with the number on the bin).  I've also started (and nearly finished) the process of leveling my classroom books using the Fountas & Pinnell guided reading levels.

I don't allow students to select from the classroom book bins until we have "discovered" the categories they have been sorted into.  We do this as a class, add the book bin label, and then they are allowed to browse from them AFTER we do the "Just Right" books mini lesson.  Click Here for more "Classroom Books" information and ideas.

If you are wondering how to start collecting books for your classroom, take a look at my FAQ section:

Book bin labels can be found here:

Read Around the Room

Read Around the Room information and ideas:

Easy Reading Flat and Flip

Sandy Elsasser's Flat and Flip Book Printables:  

Click on "Teacher Resources" and search through each year.

Familiar Books from Previous School Years

Do you ever wonder what to put in your student's browsing boxes at the beginning of the year?    For my first graders, I gather a class set of the Kindergarten shared reading books that my students should be familiar with from last year.  Maybe your 5K teachers would be willing to part with some of their titles if they are not using them at the moment?  Worth the try!  We use these class sets of Kindergarten Shared Reading books during the month of September and part of October.  By then, we've started Guided Reading, and have started book shopping our classroom book bins.

Seek & Find Books

These are also a great add to student book boxes in September and October.  Especially for K and 1st grade book boxes!  I've find that my students really like these!  Especially my non-readers.  They are surprised to learn that it is OK to read these types of books and that they were "building their stamina" (and eye muscles) by reading them!  I have a few of these in my classroom set of books, but I also pull from our school library and my public library system.  If you don't use your public library system, you should really invest time in learning how to use it!  It's a FANTASTIC resource.  I do it all online.  I reserve books online and have them all sent to one library location for easy pick-up!

Wordless Books

Another great add to book boxes in September and October, for both Kinders and 1st graders.  My school library has about 50 wordless books.  A nice variety.  They don't get used much, so I hope to keep them for as long as possible.  We don't have due dates, but if a teacher is looking for a book, the librarian will come searching for it!  I've also found that my public library has a nice collection, too. 

ABC, Number, Shapes, Colors, Words, & Other Concept Books

I have a few bins in the classroom set of books for letters, numbers, shapes, words, colors, etc.  I supplement these books with additional titles from my school library and public library for the first two months of school.  I create larger bins (because of the sheer number of book titles for ach type of concept book) during the months of September and Ocotber.  We use these book bins (below) for the first two months, while I slowly introduce the classroom book bins.

ABC, Number, Shapes, Colors, Words, & Other Concept Reading Rings

These are introduced right away in the beginning of the year, during our "First 22 Days" of Reader's & Writer's workshop minilessons.  They are available all year long.  I find that students use them a lot during Writer's Workshop, too.  They are GREAT for Kinder student book boxes, and beginning of the year 1st grade book boxes!

Click Here for more "Reading Rings" information and ideas.

ABC, Sight Words, and Classmate Name Charts

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These are in their browsing boxes from the start.  Just another great way to review sight words, names, colors, shapes, numbers, and letters!

Poetry, Songs, Rhymes Charts; Class-Made Books; and Student-Made Books

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Student Newspaper Publications

 Student Magazines


You can find great pointers at the Dollar Tree store.  I find them in the party section (drink stirrers).

Class Browsing Boxes/Bins Storage Area & Student Browsing Boxes/Bins

The cart/bin system above is called the "Leveled Reading Browser Cart" manufactured by Copernicus Educational Products Inc.  GOOGLE it to see which companies have it for the best price!  Click Here for more "Browsing Boxes" information and ideas.

Readers' Theatre Scripts

Student Poetry Binders/Notebooks

MP3 Players

I've transitioned from cassette players to CD players, CD players to FP3 players, and FP3 players to MP3 players.  We currently have four MP3 players in our listening center.  I only purchase CD audio books, and have been for the last seven years, so we have a large collection.  I also borrow CD audio books from our local public library and purchase MP3 audio books online as well.  Every 3-4 weeks I change the selections on each MP3 player.  I create playlists so students know what books are available to listen to.  The MP3 players I chose to buy were from Amazon.  They are Sansa Express.

Sansa Express

Things I like about the Sansa Express:

  • USB Port for Recharging

  • Digital Screen

  • Easy to Operate (My 1st Graders Easily Adapted to Them)

  • Voice Recorder

Things I don't like about the Sansa Express:

  • Has a Radio (Some Kiddos Play Around with the Settings)

  • Has other Language Options (Some Kiddos Play Around with the Settings)

Materials and Resources:

  • Audio Books and Pointers

  • Audio Book Basket/Bin

  • Audio Book Play List Menu Templates:    four     six     eight     ten     twelve     fourteen     sixteen

  • MP3 Players & Headphone

  • USB Port Charger (I have some that plug into the wall, keeping the computer ports free)

  • Computer(s) & Headphone(s)

  • Online Stories: one     two    three    four     five     six      seven     eight     nine       ten      eleven      twelve  (Thanks, Karen P., for sending me several links!) thirteen

  • Preprogrammed Web Page w/ Online Stories Selections Listed

Other Possible Listening Center Activities - Perfect for Kindergarten students!

Color a Rhyme


Soundtracks Games

"Read Me a Book" Activity

Click Here for more "Read Me a Book" information and ideas.

I use the RCA digital voice recorder.  I have two of them.

Sequence a Story, Song, or Rhyme - Perfect for Kindergarten students!

Students sequence storytelling magnets and use a pointer to "tell a story". 

Add these storytelling magnets to the book, or related books as an after-the-story reading response extension.  Have students use the magnets to respond to the story/stories they've just read and then write about it.

Pocket Chart Stories, Rhymes, Chants, Songs, and Poems - Perfect for Kindergarten students!

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Shared reading poems, songs, and chants can be printed on sentence strips.  Students then use the sentence strips to reconstruct the poem, song, or chant.  To differentiate, or as a writing extension, have students copy the song/poem/chant/story in their learning log.  To store the sentence strips, I hope punch each set and then hang them on 3M "Command" hooks near the pocket chart center. 

Sentence Strip Stories - Perfect for Kindergarten students!

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Students use a pointer and read sentence strip stories, utilizing picture cues when necessary. 

  • Pocket Chart
  • Pointers
  • Sentence Strip Stories:   .doc    .pdf  [print, cut sentences apart, laminate, trim lamination]

The activity is stored in a vinyl [plastic] pencil case.  I've purchased these pencil cases Target, Wal-Mart, Office Max, Office Depot, Walgreen's, etc.  The container is labeled with a sticker that indicates where the item belongs (pocket chart corner), and with a title, and picture of what the activity is.  The pencil case is then stored in it's own drawer of a Sterilite storage unit that is located on a shelf next to the pocket chart.


Felt Board Stories - Perfect for Kindergarten students!

 Students sequence felt pieces and use a pointer to "tell a story". 

Add story felt sets to the book, or related books as an after-the-story reading response extension.  Have students use the felt pieces to respond to the story/stories they've just read and then write about it.

  • Felt Board

  • Pointers

  • Pieces for Story Sequencing and Retelling:

  • Labels for Felt Board Storage (Size AVERY 8163)

  • CDs of stories/songs/rhymes to match/go with Felt Board Sets: I burned all my Little Boy Blue Songs/Stories/Rhymes to ONE cd and put that CD into the felt set folder - - I did this for all my felt board sets (Little Bo Peep, Five Little Pumpkins, Little Red Riding Hood, Three Bears, etc!).  Instead of reading the book and then responding using the felt pieces, they could listen on the CD player while re-enacting with the felt pieces.