Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Guided Reading to Support Textbook Reading, Part 2

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 second post in a series about using guided reading activities to support content-area textbook reading. To read the first post, click here.

In today's post, I'll give examples of how to provide textbook reading support for science lessons in the lower elementary grades.


There are several tasks to complete before you can formally support readers in using content area reading texts.

First, you should explore available materials and select diverse reading materials that support the standards for the unit of study in the content area:

  • Formal textbook content that is up-to-date and appropriate
  • Books in classroom libraries and school libraries
  • Books for guided and shared reading during language arts lessons
  • Computer sites that are available and approved by your district. 

If you find a formal textbook to use, select the appropriate sections of the textbook and consider how much assistance they will need to read the text. It is important that all students are given support for two aspects of textbook reading: content-specific vocabulary and informational text features.


New vocabulary can present challenges: pronunciation, words with multiple meanings, and a lack of prior knowledge about the word and how it is used in new content. The following activities can help prepare the students for their introduction to new vocabulary:

  • A short video that introduces the unit of study and contains some of the new vocabulary
  • Reading books that introduce the topic
  • Teaching the students how to use a glossary
  • Helping students hear word segments by clapping the syllables in a new word. (As a fourth grade teacher, I used a bulletin board to divide the words into syllables and play riddle games. We also played bingo that enabled them to practice writing the word and remember its definition.)

Remember that students must understand the meaning of a word as they hear and see it. Writing the word can help the word become a part of their mastered vocabulary.


Introduce students to the informational text features that provide tools to help understand new topics and vocabulary. Project a copy of   Fantastic Frogs   from Hameray’s  Real World   collection or use guided reading copies.

Front cover:

  • Discuss the information that the cover provides, including the title, author, and publisher.
  • Why do you think there is a picture on the cover?
  • What does “fantastic” mean?

Title page:

  • How is the title page similar to the front cover? How is it different?
  • Do you think the picture is fantastic? Why?

Pages 4 – 5:

  • What is the title or subject of these two pages?
  • Study the pictures. How do they help the student’s understanding of the text?
  • Ask the student to do shared reading while reading the pages. Slowly pronounce the two bolded words. Ask the students to use the glossary to identify the words.
  • Invite the students to discuss why frogs might need to adapt.   Can you think of other amphibians that live on land and water?

Make sure to note that every word in the index was also included in the glossary, which explains content-specific vocabulary.

Next Tuesday, I’ll discuss how to apply this reading support for higher-level social studies curriculum. Make sure to subscribe to the blog in the right-hand toolbar to receive my new post in your inbox! 


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 learn about   Story World Real World , which features the book mentioned in this post.