Ultimate Guide to Using Emergent Reader Books

Have you ever wondered what to do with all those cute little printable books you find everywhere? Are you wondering if your students are ready to start reading groups in your classroom? If so I'm hoping that I can help clear some things up for you!
 An emergent reader book is a little book that beginning readers use as they are just beginning to learn the conventions of print. They can be printable paper books, or published paperback books.
 No matter where you find emergent reader books for your students you will want them to have the following characteristics:
  • Strong picture support
  • repetition
  • controlled vocabulary
  • natural spoken language
  • simple sentence structures ("Lions are at the zoo." Instead of "At the zoo, you may see lions.")
  • large text
  • 1-2 sentences
  • 1-2 lines of text
  • familiar experiences as subject matter (think "At my School" or "Going to the Park" not "Backpacking in Europe")
 There are TONS of printable emergent readers both free and paid online as well as books that you can order for your students. Here are some of my favorite resources:
  • Reading A-Z - This website has thousands of printable readers and e-books for students to practice with.  I usually print the black and white versions (color versions are also available) and use these mostly as homework books.  I love that I can print them and if they aren't returned I can just print more!
  • Wilbooks - One of my favorite sites for finding real published books for emergent readers, they are cheap and available on tons of topics.
  • Danny Books - If your students LOVE dogs they will fall in love with Danny.  These books have real photographs of Danny the dog participating in all kinds of adventures.
  • Making Learning Fun - This website has tons of printable emergent readers for lots of different themes, some are better than others so definitely take a look before printing.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers - You can find SOOO many great emergent readers both free and paid on TPT.  Just search emergent readers and you will find lots of great options!

 Here are just a few of the behaviors students may exhibit that let you know they are ready to begin formal instruction with emergent reader books:
  • interest in read aloud stories
  • pays attention to an entire book
  • participates in discussion of read alouds and stays on topic
  • "reads" the pictures in books and tells a complete story
  • understands how to handle books
  • makes predictions that make sense
  • knows letters
  • knows some letter sounds
  • differentiates between words and letters
  • has a sense of story (beginning/middle/end)
  • points to words while reading
  • recognizes some words in context but not all the time (STOP on a stop sign, but not in a book)
Using emergent readers for formal reading instruction can be a bit different than later guided reading groups because you are often working on many of the behaviors above, concepts of print, etc in the beginning. Here are some general guidelines for teaching with emergent readers.
  • Introduce the story and embed important vocabulary in students minds. If the book is about a trip to the farm, have students think about and name animals they may see in the book.  
  • Remind students to point to words as the read. This will help them as well as you to see where students are having difficulty.
  • While students are reading prompt them as needed: Use the picture. Does the first letter match what you read? Did that sound right? Did that make sense? Did that look right? etc.
  • After students have read their book be sure to point out examples of great book handling, strategy use, thinking, etc. (ex."I love that at first you said bunny, but looked at the first letter sound to correct your reading and say rabbit.")
  • Find a teachable moment. You may have students revisit a particularly difficult page and try it again.  I like to tell students to try it again before making corrections, if students recognize their mistake and read it correctly without you having to point it out, even better!
  • Give students time to reread the entire story again.
  • You may even find interactive books that allow students to cut and paste parts into the book.  These create even more opportunities for learning letters, sight words and more! Here is a peek at one of my interactive alphabet readers. You can check them out here: 

I could definitely go on for days about this topic, but I hope that this was a helpful reminder for what to look for when selecting and using emergent reader texts with students!
I'm participating in the You Oughta Know blog hop again this month, so if you are looking for more great ideas, check these out!


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