Reading Fluency from the beginning


Sometimes patience is key in the first step of making sure they are ready.  Make sure they are definitely ready. Now that you have gotten the basic skills needed to begin working on fluency with reading.  Let’s get started.     


The first Book


First,  Make sure they are taught all of the sight word vocabulary for that book.  (if they don’t know, place on flash cards to learn)

Start with a book that does not have more than 2-3 lines on each page and 1 line to start is just fine.  Check with your local librarian for help in chosing books.  There are many different series that are leveled, they can direct you to them.

   If working with older student, collect a variety of books from the library, you will want to find a high interest area.   Once you have found the right books you will want to begin.


 Let them work to read the book, as they have already practiced all the words until they know them automatically with flash cards.  This should be doable. Here is the process:


  1.   Learn the words with flashcards to the entire book.
  2.    Look through the pages of the book, discuss the pictures.
  3.   Begin reading. 
  4.  They read page 1 once.
  5.  You read page 1 slowly once with excitement and meaning.
  6.  Then they read it attempting to mock reading it with meaning like you, they should point to each word as they read.
  7.  Discuss what they have read, checking for comprehension. 

 The books will begin to have more than 3 lines. When they do, do the following:


  1. Use a blank index card to cover all the lines below the first line that are not being read.  Student should see one line at a time.
  2. If they are unable to recall a word, count in your head slowly, 1,2,3 and then say the word for them.  Do not allow them to guess. Interrupt and give the word if they are attempting to sound out a sight word.  They are not meant to be sounded out.

Once they have read the page and you have moved the index card down the page, now have them slide the index card down as you read slowly with meaning as before.


  1. Have them read it aloud  with meaning and expression. Remember to give them words that they are unable to recall, not allowing them to guess.
  2. Discuss what happened on the page, checking for comprehension
  3. If there are words that are repeatedly missed, remember to practice these with flashcards daily prior to reading until they are learned. 
  4. You should not spend more than ½ an hour on this each day but at least 15 minutes. 
  5. You should read at least 2-3 pages at the preprimer level in each setting.
  6. Don’t forget to give lots of praise and recognition for accomplishments.


3 Responses to “Reading Fluency from the beginning”

  1. 1 teachingyoungchildren March 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Thank you for your informative blog. I am a mother to a two year old who is absorbing academic concepts such as ABCs and beginning sounds quite readily. Your blog gave me a lot of ideas as to how to move from this step further on the road to literacy. I will subscribe to you to look for more 🙂

  2. 2 Hilery Williams March 6, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    I run a Dyslexia Support Service in Scotland. I understand that your method may be useful but it seems rather joyless. I acknowledge that you urge teachers/carers to read with meaning and expression but unless the story is the focus rather than the individual sight words, then the child will never become a passionate reader, merely a technician.
    Of course there is a place for sight vocabulary to be learned and practised; but not allowing a reading of the book until the words are all internalised is prescriptive and mechanical. Unless, that is, the books themselves are so dull that the child does not desire to race through them to discover what happens next.

    • 3 everyonecanlearn March 6, 2009 at 11:21 pm


      I think you may have missed that this is a process to use only for approximately 15-30 min a day depending on the student. The rest of the time for reading, they are using eniching literature that is mostly being read to them in the beginning but on grade level for comprehension and development purposes. This is mentioned in an earlier post in January and mentioned in this post but minimally. I try not to be too repetitive.

      I have seen 4 students I am currently working with whom have been diagnosed with Dyslexia go from not reading at all to reading Chapter books in one year and were so excited to say, “I CAN READ” that their parents cried. These four students range from grade 4-6 and in my opinion had been failed by our school system. With these short interventions as described, they moved from not being able to read a basic Pre-Primer on their own unless it had the words they had memorized in it, to reading Chapter books. Granted these are level 2-3 Chapter books, but they are reading them within 1 year of work. I call that progress and success. For them, the joy came from seeing themselves be able to finally read on their own and not guessing all the time.
      I do agree that the story should be the focus of most of their Literature time, however methodical for intervening and improving their skills for reading has seemed to work best for most of my kids throughout the years. If you have some information on your own process I would love to read about it and check it out for myself. I may be greatly enlightened to a new world. All kids are never the same and different approaches are usually needed for different kids. Doesn’t hurt to add to the toolbox. Growth in our knowledge of resources is the greatest thing we can do as educators to bring success to more of the population. You sound like you are all about that 🙂

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Lynnette Crawley M.S. Ed

As an educational consultant, I work with families, students, adults, parents, teachers, schools and corporations in relationship to the many disabilities affecting their lives. Many times all anyone needs is a little coaching, direction or tools to close the gap between where they are and where they should be. Making progress is not good enough. We must be closing the gap. Email:

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