Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Book Introductions With Guided Reading Groups

This is a guest blog post by Dr. Geraldine Haggard, who   is a retired teacher, Reading Recovery teacher leader, author, and university teacher.   It is the first in a series about utilizing book introductions to help guided reading groups develop their reading strategies.

Book introductions are an important tool to help guided reading groups practice and develop their reading strategies. When presenting a new book to the group, teachers can present a preview of the book, pointing out new vocabulary and drawing attention to the pictures. Today’s blog focuses on the importance of book introductions. In later blogs, I will share examples of book introductions for three books at three levels of difficulty.


The following reasons for the use of book introductions come from my Reading Recovery training and from my experiences in working with Reading Recovery students and tutoring children the past fifteen years:

A good book introduction helps children comprehend and become more fluent in the reading of the text. The readers need to know what the book is about. Setting a purpose for reading is important.

  • With an introduction, the teacher can scaffold and strengthen strategies used by successful readers.
  • Research tells us that young readers profit from talking about strategies they are beginning to use. Why is the strategy successful? What do they do as they use the strategy? When do they use it? Your introduction will serve as a model for their use.
  • The book introduction makes the first reading more successful and prevents the feeling that reading is difficult. This understanding can become the motivation for students to read more.
  • The teacher can introduce new language and encourage strategy usage when students come to an unknown word. (Multiple meaning words, names of characters, and/or verb tenses not used by students in oral language, etc.)
  • Young students cannot introduce a new book independently to others before they read. Your modeling can help them develop this skill as they grow as readers.
  • The book introduction is an opportunity for the teacher to support students at their "cutting edge" and to provide readiness for entry to higher level strategies.


The first important guideline is to determine the common independent reading level of the guided reading group. Observing the children reading, running records, and recognizing oral language patterns that the children use can help you select a book that everyone will be able to read independently with 90 - 94 percent accuracy.

Explore two or three possible books at the level you feel is correct to use. Select some books that you think your students will enjoy and that they have strategies to use as they meet some new words.

Spend some time reading the books you have identified as appropriate for the group. Make sure you understand what is happening in the book, what new language is presented in the book and the presence of new sight words that will require decoding strategies. Think about the role of the pictures in the book and how they can be used to plant language and determine meaning. What strategies do you see your students using already that you do not need to include in your introduction?

Remember that placement in a guided reading group does not have to be a permanent placement. Some students will progress in their independent reading level and can move to another group. A running record can help you make the right decision about placement. Also consider rate and fluency as you make the decision. 


Here are some tips for you to follow in order to effectively introduce a new book:

  • Be excited about the book as you introduce it. If the students desire to read the book, they can demonstrate the use of strategies and good fluency.
  • Be sure each child has a copy of the book to use during the introduction.
  • Provide just enough help. Expect students to use some of their developing strategies and those they are using independently.
  • Don't make you introduction too long. There needs to be enough time for the first reading and the use of new information given in the introduction.

Next week, I will share more ideas about effective book introductions for guided reading books. Make sure to check back to this blog for updates!


Geraldine Haggard is the author of several books from our  Kaleidoscope Collection . She spent 37 years in the Plano, TX school system. She currently tutors, chairs a committee that gifts books to low-income students, teaches in her church, and serves as a facilitator in a program for grieving children.  


Click the image below to download an information sheet with key features about the  Kaleidoscope Collection , which contains books written by Geraldine Haggard.