What kinds of texts do you give your students to help them build fluency? Do you offer texts that are easy for them to read and comprehend independently? Or do you push them to work at a more challenging level?

Text selection mattersLiteracy expert Tim Shanahan addresses this important question in his article What Texts to Use to Teach Fluency? We’ve summarized his research-based findings here, some of which may surprise you.

Shanahan emphasizes that pre-readers and very early readers need texts with lots of repetition and predictable sentence structures (think Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and other such books). Large print and clear spacing are also very important. These things, Shanahan asserts, actually matter more than readability level. When students point to and say each word aloud, they’re figuring out how reading works. At this stage, that’s the most important goal.

Once students have an understanding of how reading works—i.e., they can consistently point to a word and say it, even if they’ve memorized it—appropriate text selection becomes even more critical. Research confirms that it’s best to select texts with high-frequency words, words with the spelling patterns you’re trying to teach, and plenty of useful words beyond the student’s reading level. Shanahan asserts that, generally, “Texts used for fluency should be at levels that we would traditionally label as frustration level. The students will figure out these texts from the feedback and repetition (such repetition isn’t worth the time if the texts are too easy for the students).” Shanahan emphasizes that prose filled with useful words is generally more effective for fluency building than poetry and song.

Read Naturally’s fluency-building materials and strategy are consistent with this advice. The stories in each level are high-interest, nonfiction prose. Our low levels feature short, predictable sentences with lots of repetition, while our middle and high levels offer more sophisticated, highly useful vocabulary in addition to high-frequency words.

Furthermore, a student using the Read Naturally Strategy will work in a level that provides a challenge. Each student works in a level difficult enough to require practicing a passage several times, but not so difficult that the student gives up. This is because repetition to mastery is a key part of the Read Naturally Strategy. When a student reads the same passage of text over and over, s/he has the opportunity to truly learn, integrate, and understand the words. The student is motivated to do this because the topics are interesting, the writing is engaging, and the student has a goal.

The groundbreaking combination of our text and our strategy is the reason Read Naturally has helped millions of students achieve fluency. Our materials are consistent with the best research available, and we have countless testimonials to prove how well they work.

To learn more about how to use our fluency-building materials and which products to select, check out the detailed information on our website. We’re also happy to speak with you about your individual needs.