Guided reading is an instructional approach that involves a teacher working with a small group of students who demonstrate similar reading behaviors and can read similar levels of texts. The text is easy enough for students to read with your skillful support; it offers challenges and opportunities for problem solving, but is easy enough for students to read with some fluency. You choose selections that help students expand their strategies.

What Is the Purpose of Guided Reading?

You select books that students can read with about 90 to 94 percent accuracy. Students can understand and enjoy the story because it's accessible to them through their own strategies, supported by your introduction.

They focus on meaning but also use problem-solving strategies to figure out words they don't know, deal with difficult sentence structure, and understand concepts or ideas they have never before encountered in print.

Why Is Guided Reading Important?

Guided reading gives students the chance to apply the strategies they already know to new text. You provide support, but the ultimate goal is independent reading.

When Are Children Ready for Guided Reading?

Developing readers have already gained important understandings about how print works. These students know how to monitor their own reading. They have the ability to check on themselves or search for possibilities and alternatives if they encounter a problem when reading. For these readers, the guided reading experience is a powerful way to support the development of reading strategies.

The ultimate goal of guided reading is being able to read a variety of texts with ease and deep understanding. Silent reading means rapid processing of texts with the most attention on meaning, which is achieved as readers move past beginning levels through H, I, and J. At all levels, students read orally with fluency and phrasing.

Matching Books to Readers

You select a text for a small group of students who are similar in their reading behaviors at a particular point in time. In general, the text is about right for students in the group: It is not too easy, yet not too hard, and offers a variety of challenges to help readers become flexible problem solvers.

You should choose Guided Reading Program books for students that:

  • Match their knowledge base
  • Help them take the next step in learning to read
  • Are interesting to them
  • Offer just enough challenge to support problem solving while still supporting fluency and meaning

Supporting Students' Reading

In working with students in guided reading, you constantly balance the difficulty of the text with support for students reading the text. You introduce the story to the group, support individuals through brief interactions while they read, and guide them in talking together afterward about the words and ideas in the text. In this way, you refine text selection and help individual readers move forward in developing a reading process.

Good readers employ a range of word-solving strategies, including analysis of sound-letter relationships and word parts. They must figure out words that are embedded in different kinds of texts.

Reading a variety of books enables them to go beyond reading individual words to interpreting language and its subtle meanings.

Procedure for Guided Reading

  • You work with a small group of students with similar needs.
  • You provide introductions to the text that support students' later attempts at problem solving.
  • Each student reads the whole text or a unified part of the text.
  • Readers figure out new words while reading for meaning.
  • You prompt, encourage, and confirm students' attempts at problem solving.
  • You and your students engage in meaningful conversations about what they are reading.
  • You and your student revisit the text to demonstrate and use a range of comprehension strategies.


Adapted from the Teacher’s Guide for Guided Reading Nonfiction Focus: 2nd Edition