It can be challenging for older readers to honor where they are in their literacy journey and choose books that are a perfect fit, especially if those books are considerably easier than the ones their peers are reading.
One way we have found to work around this sensitive issue is to invite our older, struggling readers to be guest readers in the kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. To prepare for their guest appearances, they willingly choose an easy picture book and read it over and over, working to be both fluent and expressive.
As we confer with these students, we offer tips on reading to a group, how to show the pictures, and how to pause when the audience responds during the reading.
I watched a fourth grader read Biscuit (which was a perfect fit for him) to an enrapt group of kindergartners. He practiced the book for a week, moving from robot reading to performance level, "woofs" and all.
The experience builds confidence, helps instill a sense of worth, and even provides a small sense of celebrity when young audience members see their guest reader in the hall or at recess.
Without fail, the older students ask if they can do it again. And we think you'll agree that it is an easy request to say yes to.