Guided Reading Ideas

Reading,  I passionately believe that all children have the right to learn this skill for life. Like many educators, I feel that being able to read can unlock the door to endless opportunities.

Guided Reading is one way in which the skills for reading can be taught and a love for reading can be embedded. It shouldn’t be the only way reading should be taught and it definitely needs to be delivered effectively for an impact on learning and development. It shouldn’t be something that you just grab six books for, open a copy at the start of the session and hope that you can drag it out and get a lesson out of it.Having said that, we all know how busy primary school teachers are and how much juggling is required on a daily basis within the classroom, so I hope this blog gives you a few ideas.

This blog is for those times when Guided Reading was the lesson that didn’t get planned for during your PPA because Bobby was sick all over the floor and Ellie couldn’t find her left pump. The TA that was covering your class due to staff shortages then had to go and see the supply teacher in the classroom next door because she had just said something to David about his “lovely hair” which, because David did not agree his hair was lovely, had hidden under the table and was not coming back out.

With minimal planning, here are some ideas that can be easily implemented within your classroom.

Wordless Picture Books

 You Choose by Nick Sharrat and Pippa Goodhart is my two year old’s favourite book. He loves “reading” it and asking questions about each page. Despite the age difference between my son and children in primary school, this book is awe inspiring for EYFS and KS1 children (but also useful for KS2). The book is simple and children can choose to live in different places, they can eat different foods, travel in different ways – the possibilities and combinations are endless.  By using a simple book like this means that children can concentrate on their questioning skills rather than decoding.

   Journey by Aaron Becker is a beautifully illustrated wordless picture book which follows a girl on an elaborate flight of fancy about self-determination – and unexpected friendship. Often, when completing audits in schools, staff say that KS2 children do not yet identify what type of question is being asked. Asking children to use their inferencing skills, recalling or evaluative skills without having to concentrate on the decoding can encourage children to develop their skills in questioning. Using Blooms taxonomy will help children to understand the question stems associated with different types of questions.

Film clips

Sharing a video such as one from The Literacy Shed is another fun, engaging way to develop children’s comprehension skills. One idea would be to watch an advert such as the beautiful, powerful advert by Center Parcs about a family of bears. A variety of questions could be asked at points throughout this relatively short clip, such as;

Who is this bear? (At the beginning).

What are they thinking?

How are they feeling? What makes you think this?

Who is ringing them? Why do you think they are phoning?

Why do the younger bears not respond to the older bear?

What role does each bear have within the family?

What is the bear thinking on the train home?

When the bear looks out of the window at home what are they thinking about?

Where are they going? How do you know?

What makes the young bear take his headphones off? Why?

How are the Bears feeling at the end?

What does the darkness and light represent in the video? What makes you think this?

How would you summarise what happens in this video?

What examples can you find that the family are not connecting at the start?How does that change?

Can you identify the point in the story when things begin to change? Is there only one part?

What is your opinion on their family life at the beginning?

What is your opinion on their family life at the end?

Is there any important messages within the video?

Does this advert remind you of any books you have ever read? How are they the same? How are they different?

Do you think anything will change when the Bears go back home?


Poetry is a crucial element of the new curriculum. By presenting children with the lyrics to a song and asking them to read and annotate BEFORE playing the song to the class can inspire and motivate children to get involved in reading. The feeling of realisation, either whilst reading or when the music is played, that they are reading a poem and that they can comprehend music on a higher level can motivate reluctant readers, especially if the song is current and something they love to listen to. Make sure that both the lyrics and the music video are appropriate  before you start the lesson though! (The Circle of Life, though not current, is one of my favourites!) 

I hope you find some of these ideas useful. Please share your ideas below.



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