Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Helping Striving Readers in the Upper Grades: Q & A with Dr. Adria Klein (Part 1 of 2) [Classic Post]

This video series first appeared in 2013 and has helped many striving readers since then! To get literacy posts delivered into your inbox, make sure to follow this blog by subscribing in the right sidebar. 

Welcome to our first installation of videos in which professor emerita and literacy expert Dr. Adria Klein answers questions about struggling and striving readers in the upper grades and how to best help them take an interest in and achieve proficiency in reading.   You can see the second post here.

Click on the videos to watch. Transcripts, if preferred, are available below each of the videos.

Q: What kinds of difficulties do struggling readers have in the upper grades?

A: Struggling readers in the upper grades have most of the difficulties around areas of comprehension and vocabulary. They often have trouble with fluency tied to their decoding needs.

Often times they struggle with concepts like word phrases and at times they are working through strategies and tend to rely on only one or two as they read, rather than multiple uses of strategies to support their reading and understanding.


Q: How can a teacher help striving older readers?

A: Lots of independent reading is one of the research bases for understanding a struggling older reader.   Dick Allington   talks about the fact that kids have to read, read, read, and read some more. That involves them being interested in reading, willing to read, wanting to read, and having the right books to support them.

Materials like the   Download   series from Hameray are critical to providing topics of interest to kids,a layout and a book that looks sophisticated, but provides the right level of support and entry for the reading that they are going to do in those texts.

We’ve got to find books that look sophisticated, are on topics that they are interested in, deal with characters they care about, and have some kind of support for their reading needs. But not by providing books that are too low-level.

Q: What kinds of material would be useful to support teachers and striving readers?

A: As we talked about the idea of older readers needing books appropriate for them, one good idea is to consider having recurring characters.   The Extraordinary Files   are a series of mysteries that have two characters that reoccur, but the kids they interact with in the story are the age of the reader that we intend to reach.

So thinking about the older reader, thinking about the recurring characters, they identify like they would with a series, in another book or in television or in movies and kids tend to like to follow a character.

Something else that hooks the reluctant reader at the upper grade-level is to see pictures in the book that look like the characters they would envision they would like to be if they put themselves in the book.

And so both the   Download   series and   Extraordinary Files   have an appropriate amount of picture support as well as high-interest characters and the age range appropriate to reach our students.


The book series mentioned in this interview,  Download   series and   The Extraordinary Files , are part of Hameray's High Interest / Low Vocabulary genre, intended to encourage struggling readers to read through presenting compelling topics that they want to read about.   Download   offers facts about the exciting world of extreme sports and hot contemporary subjects such as technology and natural disasters.   The Extraordinary Files   is a mystery-fiction series that follows the adventures of two sleuths as they work to solve cases, often of a supernatural bent.

Flip through a couple of samples of books from these series to see how they appeal to readers who have trouble taking an interest in reading.

To see a wider variety of titles from these series, take a look at our catalog. We have a large selection of books from these two series and other series that will appeal to the same age-group and reading level.   To see the second post in this series, click here ! To access our catalog or download series highlight sheets with key features, click the images below!