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About Reading

How Do I Know a Good Early Reading Program When I See One?

Quality can look different in individual primary grade classrooms. However, there are certain characteristics of effective early reading programs that parents can look for in their children’s classrooms. First Lady Laura Bush presents a list of these characteristics in this guide for parents.

  • Every teacher is excited about reading and promotes the value and fun of reading to students.
  • All students are carefully evaluated, beginning in Kindergarten, to see what they know and what they need to become good readers.
  • Reading instruction and practice lasts 90 minutes or more a day in first, second and third grades and 60 minutes a day in Kindergarten.
  • All students in first, second and third grades who are behind in reading get special instruction and practice. These students receive, throughout the day, a total of 60 extra minutes of instruction.
  • Before- or after-school help is given to all students beyond first grade who need extra instruction or who need to review skills. Summer school is available for students who are behind at the end of the year.
  • Reading instruction and practice includes work on letters, sounds and blending sounds. Students learn to blend letters and sounds to form new words.
  • Learning new words and their meaning is an important part of instruction.
  • Students have daily spelling practice and weekly spelling tests.
  • The connection between reading and writing is taught on a daily basis. Students write daily. Papers are corrected and returned to the students. By the end of second grade, students write final copies of corrected papers. Corrected papers are sent home for parents to see.
  • All students are read to each day from different kinds of books. Students discuss what they read with teachers and other students.
  • All students have a chance to read both silently and aloud in school each day and at home every night.
  • Every classroom has a library of books that children want to read. This includes easy books and books that are more difficult.
  • The school library is used often and has many books. Students may check books out during the summer and over holidays.

First Lady Laura Bush. (February 26, 2001). A Guide for Parents: How Do I Know a Good Early Reading Program When I See One? Ready to Read, Ready to Learn Initiative, U.S. Department of Education.

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