Teachers know that there are three different types of reading: Independent Reading, Guided Reading, and Read Aloud.
Knowing the difference, helps teachers choose appropriate books for children that will continue to stretch their abilities and interests. Teachers also know that it is important for children to be engaged in the three different types of reading every day. This is contrary to the message popular culture keeps promoting “Read to your child!”
Reading to your child is of course essential, but that’s just hitting upon one type of reading.
Independent Reading, is when a child can sit down by himself and read a book.
For Jenna, this means sitting down by herself, paging through books, and looking at pictures. For Bruce, it means staying up until 9:30 because he’s insisting on finishing Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger.
Guided Reading is when you and your child are both engaged in reading a book together, and sharing your thinking and opinions as you go along.
Guided Reading may involve reading silently inside your head, or reading aloud. When Bruce and I were reading the Little House on the Prairie series last summer, I’d often have him read the left hand pages, and I would read the right. We’d talk about the story as it went along. Jenna can’t really do Guided Reading yet, but she’s beginning to a little bit when I ask her to point out letters or pictures she can name in the books we read together.
Read Aloud is when the adult reads the book to the child.
This is what most parents do very well. Right now my husband is reading The Hobbit to Bruce, and we read dozens of picture books to Jenna each day.
When choosing books for your child you should remember Goldilocks and the Three Bears:
Read Aloud books should be too hard for your child to read on their own. Independent Reading books should be too soft (meaning easy). Guided Reading books should be just right.