Self-Selected Reading in Our Classrooms

Self-selected reading is often seen as the easiest literacy block.  However, to develop a student’s love of reading requires careful resource curation and an awareness of their interests and preferences.  Below is a checklist I use with teachers in working through the self-selected reading block in their classroom.

The two main guiding rules are:

  • It isn’t self-selected if you don’t choose it yourself
  • You can’t get good at it if it is too difficult

Overall guidelines

  • Do you have 20 or more books per student in your classroom?
  • Do you have a mix of fiction and non-fiction?
  • Do students have a chance to interact with books as independently as possible?
  • Do you have a mixture of comfortable spaces for students to read in?
  • Do students have a chance to read a book with an adult for pleasure and enjoyment?
  • Are you doing teacher read alouds as well as having DEAR (drop everything and read) time?
  • Do you have a “reader’s chair” time for students to share about a book they have read each week?
  • Do you have a spot in the writing block for students to do book reviews?
  • Have you picked suitable early books for older readers?
  • Are you using different technologies e.g. printed books, eBooks?

For emergent students

  • Are you doing shared reading in this block? Remember to use AAC and CAR (Comment, ask, respond).
  • How are you giving them independent access to books?
  • Do you have a mixture of the following in your classroom?
    • alphabet books
    • repeated line books
    • photo based books
    • picture books
    • rhyming books
    • books in their areas of interest (check out
    • custom books

For conventional students

  • How are you ensuring they choose from books at or below their reading levels?
  • Do you have a mixture of the following for them to choose from?
    • readers
    • photo based books
    • picture books
    • rhyming books
    • books in their areas of interest (look at published books and
    • chapter books (if appropriate)
    • high interest favourites
  • If a student is reading at a grade 1 level or above, are you aiming for silent reading?
  • If a student has complex communication needs how are you teaching inner voice for silent reading?

And remember – the goal is always silent reading WITH COMPREHENSION

For more information

Check out the blog posts:

Self-selected Reading: Books for Every Reader

Self-selected Reading for Early Readers of All Ages

iPad Apps for Guided Reading


And you can download this as a handout by clicking here.

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Comments (4)

  1. Reply

    Jane, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve just been thinking about all the things that we should be putting into place so that our kids have every opportunity to develop into great readers. This is a piece that is missing from many classrooms where AAC students spend their days. Thanks for pulling this together and sharing it. We learn from you every day!

    • jane


      Thanks Carole! I’m glad it’s helpful. It’s not definitive but it’s a start that I’ve used at a few schools now with good success 🙂

  2. Reply

    I have several students who transferred in to my school with extremely limited traditional literacy skills ( e.g. Understand BM picture symbols but not text). Some professionals I have talked with feel we are beyond teaching traditional literacy skills at this point since the students are between 15 and 21 yrs of age. Can you please advise me as to research you know of that debunks the belief there is a critical period for literacy?

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