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Literature-Based Approaches to Reading

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  • 0:00 Literature-Based Instruction
  • 1:01 Self-Selected vs. Whole Class
  • 2:46 Reading Groups
  • 3:44 Integrated Approaches
  • 5:11 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

How can you teach students to read while also instilling in them a passion for reading? In this lesson, we'll look at different literature-based approaches to reading, including the advantages and disadvantages of each type, and how to integrate them all.

Literature-Based Instruction

Julio is an elementary teacher. He wants to teach his students how to read and analyze texts, but more than that, he wants to instill in them a love of reading. He wants them to enjoy it as much as he does.

Literature-based reading instruction involves teaching reading through exposure to literature. In other words, students learn how to analyze texts by reading and analyzing texts. The focus of literature-based instruction is to help children develop literacy skills through having real-life literary experiences. This is in stark contrast to programs that teach reading by talking about grammar rules and showing students one word or sentence at a time. In literature-based instruction, everything is instead based in literary texts.

Julio thinks that literature-based instruction sounds just right for his class, but he's not sure how to implement it. To help him out, let's examine the different ways to approach literature-based instruction and how he can use them in his classroom.

Self-Selected Vs. Whole Class

Julio understands that literature-based instruction is, well, based in literature. As an extension, he knows that he'll need to have his students reading literature, but he's not sure exactly how to do that. Should he assign all the students the same book or let them pick their own books?

The self-selected approach, also called the individualized approach, is to allow each student to pick the book she or he wants to read with some guidance from the teacher. For example, Julio can help guide students or suggest books to them based on their reading level and interests.

In a self-selected approach to instruction, everyone in the class is reading a different book. This is the exact opposite of the whole class approach, which is when every student reads the same book. In other words, Julio will pick a book for the class to read, and they will all read and discuss that book.

There are pros and cons to both approaches. The self-selected approach makes sure that students are able to read on their level and to read topics that relate to their interests. This boosts engagement and makes it more likely that students will enjoy what they read.

The whole class approach doesn't do that. Everyone is reading the same thing regardless of their reading level or interests; however, there are still some advantages. First of all, it can be less stressful on the teacher. When everyone is reading the same book, Julio won't have to worry about making individual recommendations or making sure every student is engaged in their reading.

Another big advantage of the whole class approach is that it allows students to open a dialogue with their peers about books. As they're all reading the same book, they can talk about the book and hear from each other what they think of it. This can be a valuable teaching tool.

Reading Groups

Julio is torn. He wants his students to read books that are on their level and have to do with their interests, but he also really likes the idea of having students analyze and discuss books together. What can he do?

The reading groups approach to literature-based instruction involves having small groups of similar readers choose a book with guidance from the teacher. For example, Julio can group his students based on their reading level and help each small group of three to six students choose a book that is one their level and sounds interesting to them.

This allows students to get the benefits of the self-selected approach while still allowing them to open a dialogue with their peers about books. It also mirrors adult book clubs which some students enjoy. On the other hand, some students may feel self-conscious if they think they are in the lower level reading group. This can cause them to have a negative feeling about reading.

Integrated Approaches

Still, Julio isn't sure which approach to take. It seems like all three have their advantages and disadvantages. The good news is that Julio doesn't have to choose just one approach. The integrated approach to literature-based instruction involves implementing a combination of reading groups, self-selected, and whole class reading. Let's look at a couple of examples.

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