The Book Study Has Begun! The Reading Strategies Book: Goal 1- Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers

Welcome to the book study on Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers presented by the #ReadingStrategiesCrew!  Since this is not a typical book, think of it more as a *strategy discovery* study.  I am joining forces with fabulous teacher bloggers to discuss reading strategies from this amazing professional text.  We are thrilled to share our thoughts on this comprehensive and practical book including 300 sensational, easy-to-implement reading strategies for students in grades Kindergarten through 8th Grade.

Each teacher blogger in the #ReadingStrategiesCrew will give you a peek into one of the 13 goals represented in this text.  Within each goal are, of course, valuable strategies to support your ability to prompt and guide students to deepen their skills as readers.  Because it supports such a wide range of readers, teachers can also guide students to more complex texts throughout the year with these strategies! 

The #ReadingStrategiesCrew decided we would each share 2 to 3 strategies within our selected goal, so please keep in mind I'm only highlighting a few strategies my goal has to offer.  We're hoping to spark thoughts on a plan of action for the start of your school year. 

I'm kicking off the study by saying Jennifer Serravallo is awe-inspiring.  She started her educational career as a classroom teacher and has become, in my eyes, one of the most genius literacy consultants and authors out there.  She states on the very first page, "The strategies I've crafted in this book stand on the shoulders of decades of research and master teachers from whose work I've been fortunate to learn...I feel grateful to be part of a profession where there is so much sharing and commingling of thinking..."
Let's get started with Goal 1: Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers.  There are twenty strategies within this goal to support pre-emergent and emergent readers.   Below is a snapshot of the strategies reinforcing this goal.  The format of Serravallo's *literacy bible* {in my terms} is not necessarily a front cover to back cover type of read, but more of a handy guidebook of sorts.  Serravallo compared it to a cookbook of recipes.  The format allows teachers to pick and choose from research-based strategies that will best scaffold students, just as a cook would pick and choose recipes from a cookbook.   
For each strategy, Serravallo includes a description of the strategy and helpful prompts to use with students.  Many of the strategies also provide Teacher Tips and samples of Lesson Language to use when putting the strategy into practice.  The strategies can be demonstrated to individuals, small group or whole class.  In addition, along the sidebar of each strategy, Serravallo indicates the level (pre-emergent to Levels R and above), genre/text type and skill(s) in which to focus.  I find these to be invaluable features of the book because even a novice or experienced classroom teacher without a reading background can fully support and guide their students in reading.  This book elicits powerful reading instruction! 

The 3 strategies I will be discussing are Linger FingerExpress the Emotions and Keep in Mind What Repeats.  It was very difficult to narrow in on only 3 strategies to discuss.  Once you own the book, you'll understand why. :) In view of the fact I work with struggling readers and oftentimes encounter students rushing through their books, reading in a monotone voice and taking the time to sound out words that continuously repeat in a text, I chose these particular strategies.  

Have you ever heard a student say, "I can't read"?  I'm sure you're nodding your head up and down, especially if you work with the younger student population in the pre-emergent and emergent stages of reading.  Well, Serravallo has been convinced by various researchers that "We can meet students where they are and help them engage with and enjoy books, make meaning, acquire vocabulary, use text features to understand, connect the pages, respond to the texts by writing and talking, practice their fluency, and perhaps above all, develop identities as confident, engaged, joyful readers {even without decoding} (p.21)".  Agree?  I bet you're nodding your head up and down again. 
Focus Strategy One: Linger Finger  
The Linger Finger strategy focuses on noticing details.  It encourages students to slow down and deliberately inspect, if you will, all the details a text has to offer.  I regularly stimulate conversations with my students discussing how books offer wonderful illustrations, text features and other *goodies* for readers to appreciate, be entertained by and learn from.  Too often my youngest readers rush through their books, only to shout, "I'm done!"  If you've encountered this same scenario in your classroom, you should consider implementing this strategy with your students.  Below is a simple anchor chart found in Serravallo's book to create with your students as a reminder to take it slow, or linger, while reading.  This anchor chart along with the catchy title for this strategy are a nice *hook & sinker* for students to remember to take their time while reading. 
To get a better sense of the Linger Finger strategy, here are a few ideal prompts found in the book: 
  • Move your finger across the page.  Tell me what you see.
  • Not so fast!  Stay on the page a moment.
  • You went across the whole page and said sentences about what you saw!
  • What will you do before you turn the page? (p.26)
Focus Strategy Two: Express the Emotions
The Express the Emotions strategy develops fluency and expressive reading.  It provokes students to think about how a character in a story may be feeling and then asks students to use a voice to sound like the character.  This strategy is very practical and easy to implement.  It triggered memories of particular kiddos I've worked with in the past.  Most likely, we've all encountered a few students who sound as if they're robots while reading...those who utter words on the page in a tiresome, monotone voice, almost as if they are reading while sleeping.  Yes?

Serravallo's teaching tip for this strategy is to model fluent, expressive reading in various parts of a book to show students a myriad of emotions present in a text and to help students tap into their inner actor (p.31).  I love that phrase because we know little actors and actresses can develop in all of our readers. :) Serravallo also mentions students who are not yet decoding can still make meaning from illustrations and expressively *read* the pictures.  The anchor chart below can be created in the classroom during a mini-lesson and serves as a reminder for students to read with expression.
For the Express the Emotions strategy, Serravallo suggests using prompts such as these: 
  • How did the character say that?  Show me.
  • Say it thinking about how the character is feeling.
  • I could tell he sounded happy (or mad or sad) because of how you read that.
Focus Strategy Three: 
Keep in Mind What Repeats
The Keep in Mind What Repeats strategy fosters students to be text detectives by finding repeated patterns in a text, together with noticing what parts are new on each page.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and We're Going on a Bear Hunt were cited as appropriate books to use with this strategy.  They each include parts that repeat alongside parts that change on the page.  When students become more mindful of repeated patterns while reading, they'll become more fluent, and we all know fluency aides comprehension.  Therefore, being mindful helps them better monitor for meaning.  Note the anchor chart below as an example of one teachers could create with their students in the classroom. 
The prompts found in the book for the Keep in Mind What Repeats strategy are
  • What's the same on this page?
  • Say what repeats.
  • Check the picture to see what's new.
  • How is this page different from the last?
  • How is this page similar to the last?
You may be asking yourself, "What books do I use to support the students working on this goal?"  Well, Serravallo contemplated that, too.  I'm here to assure you, she thought of EVERYTHING while writing this book.  EV-ER-Y-THING!  Serravallo's suggested criteria for books helpful in supporting pre-emergent and emergent students are as follows:
  • texts that are visually engaging
  • stories that have a strong narrative with recognizable dialogue, and some repetition
  • informational texts that offer opportunities to learn content from the photographs and other features
  • list books with clearly supportive pictures
  • alphabet and number books to help reinforce knowledge of letters and sounds and numerals connected to a number of objects (p.22)
I'm hoping I gave you helpful insight into a few strategies found in Goal 1: Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers.  After diving into this text and reflecting back on my own teaching instruction, I came to the realization I implement many of the strategies already.  I bet you do, too!  The strategies I discussed probably sound familiar to ones you've implemented with your students.  However, I think having a name/title for each strategy and a goal in which the strategy reinforces will definitely aid me in keeping organized and focused during my lesson planning.  

Looking ahead to this school year, I intend to implement oodles of strategies from The Reading Strategies BookThere are 300 strategies to choose from, therefore I need to use this book as "a menu not a meal".  I heard that saying many years back at a Reading First conference.  It stuck with me as a reminder to choose what works best for my students and me.  There is no need to use every single strategy if the situation doesn't call for it.  Right?

Serravallo states, "An ideal classroom is one in which every student has a clear goal, based on reliable formative assessment information." Because of this, my course of action is to continue observing and conferring with my students, writing detailed notes and deciding which direction to take my instruction to move them forward as dynamic, independent readers.  I'm eager to use Serravallo's book as a GO-TO resource filled with dog-eared, highlighted, tabbed and marked pages to remind myself of these worthwhile strategies.  I deem this a mentor text for any teacher involved in teaching reading to students! 
Image Source- Lori Squalls created this image and was happy to share.  
Thanks, Lori!  If you're looking for a good Twitter follow, check her out! 
In case you're interested, last year I created the activity below to provide a simple, yet, fun way for my students to practice reading dialogue expressively.  It seems to nicely complement the Express the Emotions strategy.  Click the image if you would like to view it in my TpT Store. 
Before you go, enter the Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of Jennifer Serravallo's The Reading Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Readers!  Entries will be taken until the end of the day on August 17th.  A winner will be announced on August 19th, so stay tuned!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The #ReadingStrategiesCrew would also love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section or link up your own blog post below.  The link up will remain open in case you don't have the book, yet, and want to write a post in the future. :)

Questions to Consider:
  • As you plan your lessons, what might be some ways you prepare yourself to support pre-emergent and emergent readers in your classroom?
  • What do you want to be mindful of when working with readers needing support with this goal?
  • If you do not teach pre-emergent and emergent readers, how can you apply your knowledge of these strategies with your developing readers?
Well, thanks for stopping by Literacy Loving Gals to kick off the book study!  As the study continues in the upcoming weeks, the hyperlinks to each teacher blogger's post will be added below to help keep the goals organized in one spot.  We hope you continue to follow along with us! :)
  1. Literacy Loving Gals: Goal 1 Supporting Pre-Emergent and Emergent Readers
  2. My First Grade Happy Place: Goal 2 Teaching Reading Engagement
  3. The Literacy Spot: Goal 3 Supporting Print Work
  4. EduKate Dawson: Goal 4 Teaching Fluency
  5. Love to Teach A Latte: Goal 5 Supporting Comprehension in Fiction~ Plot and Setting
  6. An Apple for the Teacher: Goal 6 Supporting Comprehension in Fiction~ Thinking About Characters
  7. Owl Things First: Goal 7 Supporting Comprehension in Fiction~ Understanding Themes and Ideas
  8. Inspire Me ASAP: Goal 8 Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction~ Determining Main Topic(s) and Idea(s)
  9. Beginnings with Baer: Goal 9 Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction~ Determining Key Details
  10. Mrs. B's First Grade: Goal 10 Supporting Comprehension in Nonfiction~ Getting the Most from Text Features
  11. I'm Not Just a Teacher: Goal 11 Improving Comprehension in Fiction and Nonfiction~ Understanding Vocabulary and Figurative Language
  12. Digital Divide & Conquer: Goal 12 Supporting Students' Conversations
  13. Where the Magic Happens: Goal 13 Improving Writing About Reading


  1. When I first opened the book, I felt overwhelmed! There is so much here. I like the phrase you used: Treat it like a menu, not a meal. I love the "strategies at a glance" pages in each section. They will be the most useful for me in terms of being able to find what I need quickly. I like what Jenn says about creating a visual to go along with the strategies. I am a visual learner, so this really resonates with me. The little pictures would definitely help me remember what to do. I teach older students, so I was going to skip this "emergent readers" section, but I think I will go back and skim though it. The "linger finger" strategy would be helpful to some of my students still working on fluency.

    1. Hi Lisa! Thanks for commenting. :) I definitely agree the "strategies at a glance" pages will be a great guide when planning for students and the visuals very supportive for my visual learners. I, too, am a visual learner! Even though you teach older students, Goal 1 has a handful of strategies older readers could benefit from, so definitely take a look. Yes, treat the book like a menu, not a meal! ;) Thanks for joining in the book study thus far. We hope you continue to follow along. Best wishes this upcoming school year!

  2. Excellent post, Col. I can't wait to try the strategies. Thanks for getting us on track for the new school year.

    1. Thanks, T. I hope Mary will be buying the book for the staff! I purchased my own because I couldn't wait. ;)

  3. The value of teaching emergent readers about books and doing so in a developmentally healthy manner was the first note that caught my attention. I do not teach emergent readers; therefore, I found this section full of insight. I, too, skimmed the strategies for now, but am glad to know where to go to find them. Thanks for hosting this study! I'm enjoying the read even more!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Melissa. Yes, teaching the littlest of readers builds a strong foundation for them to be successful readers in the future. :)

  4. I so appreciate you girls heading this book study. As a mathematics coordinator, this book has been a game changer for me. So many strategies that we can all us across EVERY content area......keep up the great work. Love it!

    1. The #ReadingStrategiesCrew thanks you for your support, Carrie! :)

  5. Great post!!!! Love it!! So excited to start revamping my "reading teaching" skills!!!

    1. Wow, thanks, Nicole! I, too, am so excited to start putting this book's strategies into full force! ;)

  6. Many of us at my elementary school have done group book studies with Jen's other great books and we're really excited about her latest! Thank you to the #ReadingStrategiesCrew for putting this together! It's the perfect way to go through Jen's book and learn from so many other great teachers!

    1. How wonderful, Bonnie! Thanks for sharing. We are glad to give our thoughts on this amazing resource! :)

  7. Goal 1 really gave me a chance to reflect on the pre-emergent readers who come to school with literally no exposure to school, let alone print concepts. In the past, I have started off with phonemic awareness and letter ID/sound. I'd like to build more of a foundation with focusing on the visuals (within books) and the storytelling piece. I specifically liked Lesson 1.2 The Whole and Teeny-Tiny Details, although doing a picture walk is often a common part of a guided reading lesson, I love the nuanced detail of this particular strategy. I tend to hurry through this part of the lesson, waiting to get to the meat so to speak, but I think there is value in slowing students down here. Noticing teeny-tiny details along with the whole, really builds a nice foundation for using non-fiction text features in later grades, which are so important to helping comprehend the topic. Lesson 1.7-Act It to Storytell It gives students the opportunity to show their comprehension of what they are reading. I love the idea of having them use their own words to talk like the character. Since I work with many ELL students, I find that vocabulary acquisition is usually developing along side of their literacy skills. I'm looking so forward to having this book by my side this year, I can already tell it's going to be an invaluable tool!

    1. I wish you were still in D100 with me, Darlene! You're amazing and so are your insights. I, too, love the strategies you mentioned. I agree this book is going to be an invaluable tool this year and for many years to come! Miss you. ;)

    2. Technology is a wonderful thing and I am glad we have reconnected so we can share ideas here! You're Blog is great and I'm glad we share the same passion for Reading!

    3. Agreed, and yes, we certainly do share the same passion! :)

  8. When and where is the dialogue for Goal 3?


    1. Hi Melissa! If you look at the bottom of the post, you'll see the link to the schedule previously published on my blog and social media accounts. :) Goal 3 will be posted on THE LITERACY SPOT next Monday, August 10. We're posting on Mondays and Wednesdays through September 14th to give people time to read the chapters/goals in between posts. We hope you follow along with us! :)

  9. I have started Reading Strategies and you are right it is not really a read cover to cover book. But what a great collection of lesson ideas! I really appreciated the fact that she included visuals in the lessons- so helpful!
    Conversations in Literacy

  10. I have started Reading Strategies and you are right it is not really a read cover to cover book. But what a great collection of lesson ideas! I really appreciated the fact that she included visuals in the lessons- so helpful!
    Conversations in Literacy

    1. Agreed, Lori! It's an amazing resource and the visuals for the lessons are simple enough for a non-artist like me to create with the kiddos. LOL ;)

  11. So glad I found your blog with a book study of this great book. I wasn't able to do the vlog that was created on the original RS facebook page, so this will be perfect for me to follow along with you all!
    I have read all the front matter, introductory material and the chapter for emergent readers. I'm so excited to have this at my side this year as I teach reading!

    1. Yay, I'm so glad you found the #ReadingStrategiesCrew book study, too, Kim! It's an amazing book filled with 300 gifts to support reading. :) I'm right along with you in the excitement to start the school year with this resource by my side! Thanks for commenting. "See" you along the way throughout the study. ;)


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