Category Archives: Reading

In Review…The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

Strategy book

Have you been in this situation?

I’m looking at my engagement inventory on students during independent reading time.  Several of my readers are not engaged and are doing everything possible NOT to read.  I know the readers and text are matched.  I see the students get to their reading spots quickly with book bags in hand, but they just can’t get started.  So what do I do?

Ok, I know that until readers engage during independent reading time, they will not grow as readers.  I can pull this group of students and teach them a few strategies to get started.  I know who needs support, and I know what support is needed.  Digging into my vast reading toolbox, I attempt to identify the tools I need to help these students get started.  Going through each item:  done that, used it, tried that one twice…ahhh, panic sets in!  I’ve tried all the tools in my toolbox…what do I do now?

Every teacher has been in this situation, until now. The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo provides the wide range of strategies that will build vast and diverse toolboxes strategic readers need. This book is the ribbon that ties all of Jen’s work together.  To use Jennifer’s own words, it is “the cookbook” of strategies that all teachers need.

Never one to disappoint, Jen has provided an easy-to-access, research-based resource that will grow readers as well as build teacher capacity.  The Reading Strategies Book is organized into 13 goals (think chapters) that readers in K-8 typically need. Underneath each goal are at least 20 specific strategies, leveled to match readers based on levstrategy book 2el, to support the goal. Each strategy page identifies the strategy, provides teaching tips or language, prompts, and sample anchor chart to make your teaching visible. Wait, there’s more!  She also provides the readers targeted genres or text types, and a place to go for on-demand Professional Development. This one book provides teachers with tools they need, while empowering them to open the door to discover and create more.

Gone are the days of whole class teaching where grade level standards, resources, and activities drive instruction.  This method of teaching is easier to plan but neglects the needs of the majority of students in the room.  Standards are still important; however, teachers must now understand the standards as well as the strengths and needs of each unique reader in their classroom and provide instruction that ensures every reader can successfully meet the standard.  Believing this is one thing…putting into practice is another. Every decision a teacher makes must bring students closer to becoming independent strategic readers.  To accomplish this, the decisions must be data-driven, targeted, transferable, and relevant to the work the reader is doing now.

This work is hard and can be overwhelming, but teachers are not alone.  They have the tools needed to be the strategic teacher that strategic readers require.  While this book alone is invaluable, I encourage you to take a journey with Jen and explore all of her work including: Teaching Reading in Small Groups, Conferring with Readers, Literacy Teacher’s Playbook, The Independent Reading Assessment, and now The Reading Strategies Book.

You and, more importantly, your readers will never be the same!  Happy Reading!


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