Independent Reading

This week I went to a PD presented by Anne Hammond. It was a session designed specifically for Grade 2 and 3 titled “Effective reading teaching and learning in the grade two/three classroom”.

One topic that Anne focussed heavily on was independent reading in the classroom. While the concept of independent reading is not new, it is easy to forget the simple things we can do as teachers to help students develop a love of reading. Features of independent reading include:

The importance of text selection and allowing the students to choose their own texts. Students need to learn to find “just right books” for them, books that are not too easy or too difficult and books they have an interest in. Generally students should choose books they can read with 95% accuracy and understanding.

– A variety of books should be read (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazines etc) and students can have a collection of 5 or 6 books to read during independent reading time.

Anne suggested that independent reading could occur during the Reading hour between shared reading and the learning centre activities. Alternatively, it can be done at any other time of the day.

Classrooms can be set up so that a library or book corner houses many different types of books. Collections of books can be categorised and stored in different tubs so that students have access to a wide variety of texts.

Reading for fun. We spend so much time getting our students to complete activities about books, answer questions, do book responses etc. The focus of independent reading is to “get rid of the stuff” and simply allow the students to read for the joy of it.


This week during our library time, students borrowed two books. One could be taken home and the other book was to be kept at school in the students’ locker tubs. On Friday we had independent reading for the first time (for half an hour before lunch) and I provided students with a reading record to keep track of their reading.




The room was absolutely silent and every student was absorbed in their book, which was great to see. At the conclusion of the independent reading session students discussed their book with a partner for a few minutes. I look forward to implementing independent reading in my classroom a few times a week….the simple things in life are often the best!

How do you run independent reading in your classroom?

What other reading ideas do you have?

  10 comments for “Independent Reading

  1. August 29, 2010 at 9:20 am

    We have spent all this term, implementing independent reading in our early years as well. Our preps are now up to 9 minutes of sustained independent reading, having initially only being able to last for 3 minutes. The students actually ask if they can read and the conversations are amazing. We are already seeing improvements in the attitude towards reading and hopefully our follow up data will show similarly encouraging results. I am at Hawkesdale P12 College in the south west of Victoria. If you like, I can ask our early years teachers to jump on and leave a comment or answer any questions if you would like.

  2. Kelly Jordan
    August 29, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Hi Margaret,
    Thanks for your comment! I think it’s fantastic that all of your Early Years classrooms have implemented independent reading. It is a simple idea but sometimes we need reminding of basic things that can help our students’ reading skills. Reading for fun is also a main focus for me. Do you structure it in the way that I wrote about? I would be very appreciative if any of your early years teachers would comment on the post, thanks!!

  3. August 29, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Hi Kelly,
    In my Year 1, we have independent reading (called quiet reading) immediately after lunch. The children choose books from an array of reading materials in the classroom – fiction, non-fiction, magazines, big books, song/rhyme books, alphabet books, number books, flap books and easy-to-read chapter books.
    We are at 10 minutes now. After the timer goes off, the children have the option of talking with a neighbour about the books. In addition, children can add a book to their home reading folder for sharing with families. Thanks for the interesting blog.

  4. Aine
    August 29, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    I love the idea of not reading from their “set boxes” for independent reading time. And as you posted letting them figure out what is at their level. Simple is sometimes best, great idea to implement. And would love to hear what sorts of texts you and others are leaving out for them besides their take home books, magazines, library books, etc.

  5. Kelly Jordan
    August 29, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    @ Coral – I really like that you allow the students to choose from such a broad range of books. Most of the time we are choosing the guided reading books and telling them which books they are permitted to use for their take home reading. It’s great to give them some choice in what they read!

    @ Aine – At the moment we are encouraging the students to read chapter books (fairly short ones) from the junior section in the library but I think it will also be important to provide them with other genres and give them more flexibility in their choice. Theme books to do with our current topic would also be a popular choice I think.

  6. brette lockyer
    August 29, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I have adopted the ‘Daily Five’ approach in my Year Two classroom and I am thrilled with how it has enabled independence and improved the way I conference readers. Each student has their own ‘good fit’ box which contains books that they are able to read and have selected themselves. The classroom is full of gorgeous books i have found in op shops and garage sales, from our school library, photocopies of favourite poems, typed playscripts written by the children themselves, and even interesting items such as restauarant menus and toy catalogues.

  7. September 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    Like Brett, I also use the ‘Daily Five’ approach with my Year 3 class and love it. I’ve been using it for a couple of years now and have found a much bigger increase in Literacy skills, particularly reading, than in previous years. The children choose their own ‘good fit’ books for shared and partner reading, chosen from a wide variety of texts in the classroom, keeping a number of them in their own book boxes.

  8. October 17, 2010 at 8:26 am

    Thanks for the great post and also to the comments that followed. I had never heard of the Daily 5 before so I googled it. I came across a two part podcast on Youtube explaining what it is and how someone uses it in their classroom (it is an adaptation of the Daily 5 but you get the idea). Here’s the link for anyone else that reads these comments and didn’t know what the Daily 5 was: (from here you can follow a link to Part 2).

  9. Lynne
    December 14, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    We do quiet reading with Yr 2 and 3 after Maths when children are coming back from other classes. In the beginning we often give them a basket of books in their desk groups. These will contain anything from Theme books, comics, phonic series/sets, science books, class photo albums, toy catalogues, magazines. Boys LOVE “Bugs” and Zoo” magazines and K Zone comics (from OP shop). Later we allow more freedom and often read for 20 to 30 mins.
    We also allow small group sto rad on-line or read the Big Books or our class made song books. When they are ready they can keep a chapter book in their desk.

  10. anne
    December 23, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Kelly – the blog is awesome. I recently saw a Prep classroom in Geelong where Preps would read independently for 20 minutes. Each had a sturdy ziplock bag where they had gathered 4 -5 books (self- selected), from a variety of sources -from classroom library, guided reading text, familiar read- alouds, school library, brochures etc and they where really involved- sitting in bean bags, lying on the floor, and actually focussed on and enjoying their reading. Having several texts available for reading, they did not need to move around during the reading time so interruptions were minimal. Then they turned and talked with their friend about their reading and were able to recommend favourites to each other. The teacher used this time to confer with his kids = you would have loved the way they were talking with him about how they were inferring! I am not very savvy about technology and would love to be! Could you share with us your thoughts about the possibilities for using technology with these kids

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.