1. Overview

Leveled readers or baggie books give your child practice reading. These short books are matched to your child’s current reading level and will build her confidence and fluency in reading.

Your child will read each of these books at least six times to develop different reading skills:

reading guide

↑ Top

2. Before Reading

Follow these tips to create a positive and fun environment for learning to read!

  • Have a regular time set aside for reading, so your child knows what to expect.
  • Be enthusiastic! Get excited about listening to your child read.
  • Sit next to your child in a comfortable spot while he reads.
  • Have your child underline the words with his index finger as he reads them. You should also do this when you read to your child.

↑ Top

3. Read for Words

The first two times reading the book, your child should focus on just getting the words right. Reading and pronouncing the words correctly is the first and most important skill in reading.

First read-throughs are often slow, with stops and starts, and lacking expression. Expression and comprehension will come in later readings.

When your child misses a word (mispronounces it, or says the wrong word), do a quick but clear correction, saying the right word multiple times.

Adult: That word is shoe. What word?
Child: Shoe.
Adult: Again. What word?
Child: Shoe.
Adult: Yes, shoe. Now try reading that sentence again.

Do not sound out the missed word — it isn’t helpful.

If your child skips over a word, have her go back to the beginning of the sentence. Make sure she is underlining the words with her index finger as she reads.

↑ Top

4. Read for Expression

The next two times reading the book, have your child focus on reading with expression. Have him change his voice to show feeling while reading, such as reading in a “happy” voice when something good happens in the story or in an “angry” voice when a character is upset. You also want him to change his voice for the different characters who are speaking.

“I’ll huff! And I’ll puff! And I’ll bloooooow your house down!” is a great sentence for reading expressively.

The best way to encourage expression in your child’s reading is to set a good example for him. Read with exaggerated expression, even special voices for different characters.

Encourage your child to read with more expression, based on what’s happening in the story.

Adult: I bet he was really happy when he found his dog! What do you think?
Child: Yeah!
Adult: Try reading that page in a happy voice.
Child: [in monotone voice] “All the better to see you with.”
Adult: How do wolves sound when they talk?
Child: Rrrrr, loud and growly!
Adult: [in “wolf” voice] Rrrrr, yes! “All the better to see you with!”
            Now you read it again in your best wolf voice!

Limit your interruptions, but point out opportunities to show emotion or do special voices.

↑ Top

5. Read for Understanding

The next two times reading the book should focus on reading for understanding. This is the ability to comprehend and retain the overall meaning and details of the text.

A child who really understands what he’s reading can tell you afterwards what happened in the story, the lesson learned, and several important details.

There are three types of reading comprehension you want your child to develop:

  1. Literal Comprehension — basic details of characters and plot (the who, what, when, where)
  2. Prediction — having a feel for what will happen next in the story
  3. Summarization — retelling the story in your own words, understanding the lesson learned (the why)

As your child reads, ask questions to see if he understands what he is reading. Test for the three types of comprehension.

Literal comprehension

  • “Who is Little Red Riding Hood going to visit?”
  • “Where is Little Red Riding Hood walking when she meets the Wolf?”


  • “‘Granny, what big eyes you have!’ ‘All the better to see you with.’ ‘Granny, what big ears you have!’ What do you think ‘Granny’ says to Little Red Riding Hood next?”
  • “Oh no, the Wolf ate Granny! What do you think he’ll do next?”
  • “How do you think Little Red Riding Hood felt when she realized the Wolf ate her Granny? How would you feel if a Wolf ate your Granny? Would you be angry? Or scared?”


  • “Tell me the story again without looking at the book. Do you remember everything that happened?”
  • “What did Little Red Riding Hood learn at the end?”
  • “Why did the Wolf dress up in Granny’s clothes?”

NOTE: If it takes more than six readings for your child to master a book, that’s fine. Kids learn at different speeds, and the more practice, the better!

↑ Top

6. Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My child is making a lot of mistakes. Am I really supposed to interrupt her three times in a sentence to correct every mistake as it happens?
If you are having to interrupt your child in every sentence to correct a mis-read word, then the book may be too difficult for your child’s current reading level. Read the book to her once or twice, then have her read it to you. If that doesn’t improve her word accuracy, ask her teacher about trying an easier book.

Q: My child seems to have mastered Reading for Words, Expression, and Understanding, but she still hesitates and pauses while she’s reading. What’s wrong?
That’s okay! Most children do not achieve true fluency in reading until the third grade. If she understands the words, reads with expression, and understands what’s she reading, she’s doing great. Full fluency (reading at a normal pace with no pauses or hesitations) will come with time and practice–practice–practice!

Q: Shouldn’t my child be reading books with lots of new words, so he can build his vocabulary?
Actually, no. The purpose of this kind of reading is to build fluency and confidence. A book with more than a few unfamiliar or difficult words will frustrate your child, which defeats the purpose. The best way to build a child’s vocabulary is through dialogic reading.

↑ Top

Leave a Reply