In August of this year, there will be a beautiful collection of authentic, original Shared Reading books available for sale with the new Fountas & Pinnell Classroom(TM). In the meantime, here are three tips on how to select texts you can use for Shared Reading in your classroom community.
The first consideration is that the text for shared reading should be worth reading and rereading. The content, the story, and the language must engage the readers. In selecting texts, consider the readers' ages, previous experiences, and levels of expertise in processing text. What may seem too difficult for beginning readers becomes available because of teacher support, and because the texts are so engaging. Consider stories, poems, chants, and songs as well as fascinating informational books.
- Choose texts that provide early experiences with print. Children in preschool and kindergarten generally need a simple text with bold, colorful illustrations and engaging content. To get started, choose a text with only one line of print per page with clear spaces between words. Print and illustrations should be clearly separated. In fiction, select simple stories and nonfiction topics that are close to students' own experiences. The language should have some repetition with simple structures. You can also use simple four- or five-line poems for shared reading with young children. After a couple of readings, the rhyme and rhythm carry the readers along. It is easy to read when supported by the group and the teacher's pointer.
- Choose texts that lead the development of an early reading process. Select enlarged texts that are just beyond those that most children can process in guided reading. Students can read more lines of print and more complex stories or informational books with more text. These books should still have some repetition or longer repeating patterns, and language that engages students.
- Choose texts that promote the construction of meaning and the development of language. All high-quality texts support students' attention to the construction of meaning and the talk that surrounds it. Shared reading promotes opportunities for meaningful talk and the development of language structures. Wordless picture books have enormous potential for productive work in shared reading; children can engage in meaning making even without print.