One of the most common questions I get from teachers who want to implement guided reading is: My school doesn’t have a book room. What can I use for guided reading texts? While a book room is the best possible scenario, if you don’t have one, all hope is not lost. On this post, I will share six different options for texts to use for guided reading.
One of the first schools I taught at had a book room, but it was not what I needed for my readers. I taught fifth grade in an inner city area and the books were just not engaging or relevant to my students. I ordered a 10 magazine (that was the minimum) subscription to two different magazines. I used the magazines for some of my guided reading groups, and my students loved it.
You can even pair up with another teacher and split the subscription to save money. Another option is to ask your school to pay for the subscription. And finally, check with your librarian or media specialist. Sometimes, they have money in their budget for magazine subscriptions. When I taught middle school reading intervention, I lucked up and the media specialist had about twenty class sets of high-interest magazines.
Newsela or other online articles
Newela is a great free website for reading articles online (if you are 1:1) or printing them. The articles focus on current events and news so they are perfect for engaging your students in what they are reading. One of the best features of the website is that the articles are available in multiple lexile ranges, so you can differentiate your guided reading groups but have them all reading the same article.
Ask your librarian for multiple copies.
Another idea is to see what books you have multiple copies of and then ask the librarian if he/she has a few more copies you can use. Another option is to check out several books in a popular series and conduct your guided reading group with each student having a different book from the same series. I did this with Ready Freddy books with a group of lower level fifth grade readers and they loved it!
$1 Scholastic books or Dollar Tree books
Even though I have always had a bookroom, I always stocked up on the $1 Scholastic books to make my own guided reading sets of high interest books.
Here is how to really maximize those $1 deals: Sign up online so you can easily access all the grade levels. Check each grade level’s book order and stock up on all the $1 books that will fit your range of readers.
Another option is to keep an eye out for Dollar Tree books that are engaging and relevant to your readers.
Standards-based or high interest passages
This is another idea that I actually use in my classroom regularly, with or without a great bookroom. During short weeks or weeks were we had just wrapped up a book and were not ready to start a new one, I would often use standards-based texts to fill in the days. These were helpful for a few reasons:
- They were short and purposeful, so even my struggling readers could grapple with the difficult text.
- Since they were standards-based, I was able to spiral review my reading skills with the passages.
- We could highlight and write on the texts to really get our annotating down.
- The students could easily take the texts back to their desks for extension activities.
Need some standards-based passages? Here are a few I recommend:
Weekly Reading Review – My weekly reading review is a perfect option for a more focused guided reading lesson. Each week comes with daily assignments for re-reading. The daily options could be the focus of your reading lessons. Click here to see the 4th/5th grade version and here to see the 3rd grade version.
Reading Games with Gameboards – These are not the typical texts that you would consider for guided reading, but they are perfect! Read the text with your students for your lesson and then play the game with the students or let them play as a group after your guided reading lesson. Click here to see the reading centers I have available in my store.
Paired Passages – Paired passages are another option for guided reading texts. You can spend the first day(s) reading, analyzing, and discussing the first page, then move into the second passage, and then spend a few days comparing and contrasting, discussing, and writing about the two passages. Click here to see the paired passages I have available in my store.
Reading Skill Resources: Another option if you want to focus on specific skills and standards is to purchase supplemental reading resources for specific skills (such as theme, main idea, text structures, etc.). Click here to see my Reading Resource Bundle that contains resources for theme, story elements, point of view, poetry, main idea, and more!
Teach strategy/skill groups with independent reading books.
I actually really love this suggestion but it is a bit more difficult to plan for, execute, and manage. However, if you can do it, your student will love reading the books they specifically chose and sharing them with others. To do strategy groups here are some recommendations:
1.) Have the students all choose the same genre of book.
2.) Analyze your standards and look for standards that can be applied to most, if not all, books (character traits, theme, main idea, summarizing).
3.) Introduce and teach the skill with a short common text (I recommend these!).
4.) Have the students read from their book and jot down notes or flag their book at parts they want to share or discuss. While they are reading, listen in to individual students and take notes/teach strategies to specific students as needed.
5.) Share out the students’ individual application of the skill with their book in the last few minutes of the group.
6.) For the next days, review the skill if needed and have the students apply again to their book or teach a new skill if the students have mastered the first skill.
Recommended Reading: If you want to explore this more, I recommend the CAFE book. I haven’t read this book in a few years since I moved away from teaching small groups this way, but the book was super helpful to me.
Those are my suggestions for texts to use for guided reading if you don’t have a bookroom. Do you have any other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!
After years of visiting my public library, I learned that I could request multiple copies (I asked for ten!) of the same book, even if my library didn’t own them. My library is part of a larger system of libraries (with surrounding towns) and within about a week all ten copies (most from other libraries in the system) had arrived at the library for me to borrow.
Jennifer Findley says
Sara, thank you for sharing! That is awesome and a great way to get multiple copies of books for guided reading!
Hi Jennifer! I have just switched from third grade to fifth grade. I am really interested in implementing your guided reading groups within my reading block. Instead of using a book room book, could I use high-interest, on level chapter books for my groups? I have several class sets or lit circle sets of books such as, Esperanza Rising, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Among the Hidden, Hatchet, I Survived Series, etc?
Thanks for your input!