Since we have our students begin building independence and stamina for Read to Self on the very first day of school, we teach 3 Ways to Read to ensure success regardless of their entry level readiness. Any thoughts of "I can't read" are dispelled immediately.
We love the story that Angela Rosen shared with us when we were in Orlando recently:
After the first week of school, a parent came to Back to School night with this report from her 5 year old 'non-reader'. "Mom, did you know that I'm a reader and I've been doing it all my life?" Mom replied, "Really?" Daughter continued, "Yeah! I've been reading pictures my whole life -- and that's one of the 3 ways to read a book...and then I talk about everything! I'll learn the words later."
Following the I-PICK lesson and emphasizing good fit books, we begin to raise the bar of accountability for having appropriate text. However, our emergent readers still rely heavily on pictures to support their reading. Students throughout the grades rely on pictures to support their reading of non-fiction.
While most of our students do a great job self-selecting good fit books, we often have one or two who need continued scaffolding and support. We will touch base with them frequently in our one on one conferring to guide and encourage the procurement of books that are not only highly interesting and motivating, but able to be read with a high level of accuracy.
It is a little tricky for emergent readers who are just learning to crack the code. Books with the right text level tend to have a word, a couple words, or just one simple sentence per page. They aren't necessarily perfect for sustaining engagement and stamina for long periods. When conferring with these students, we identify which type of reading they are doing with their books. The conferences help convey to children that they are indeed reading in all three ways; reading the pictures, reading the words and retelling a story, and practicing all three ways helps move them forward. We have children keep 4-6 of the very emergent books in their book boxes (those with a few words on a page) and have them read these books first. We have even gone so far as to put a sticky note on the front of each book and have children tally how many times they read the books over the course of a couple of days. We then have them either practice retelling a book or move into reading the pictures. This protocol allows for both the practice of the beginning reading as well as engagement with high interest books, allowing for extended stamina.