Intentional From the Start

Guiding Emergent Readers in Small Groups

In Intentional from the Start: Guiding Emergent Readers in Small Groups, Carolyn Helmers and Susan Vincent take a concentrated look at the often-underestimated reading and writing work that occurs during the emergent reading stages of literacy development (PreA–D) and the seemingly simplistic books we use to teach them in small-group guided reading. Though both may appear unsophisticated, these earliest readers and the texts we use to meet their needs are each unique and full of nuances that generally go overlooked.

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The authors explore how emergent readers learn best and position text levels appropriately in the service of students. They also turn their attention to a comprehensive exploration of the particular needs of emergent readers and how the work they do at text levels PreA–D lays a critical foundation necessary for them to continue growing successfully into text levels E and beyond. As they examine the needs of learners working at each emergent text level individually, Carolyn and Susan

  • detail the specific demands the books in that text level require and how to best coach young readers working through them;
  • highlight instructional procedures for reading, writing, and word study that can be put to use immediately at your small group table; 
  • suggest optimal schedules, techniques, and formats for efficient instruction at that level; and
  • unpack the book characteristics specific to that level and demonstrate ways to capitalize on them to intentionally support emergent readers and writers.

With plenty of useful classroom examples, as well as additional online resources with literacy center ideas that correlate directly with the work students are doing at particular levels, this book is a resource your emergent reading teacher heart will reach for again and again.

About the Author(s)

Carolyn Helmers has been both a half day and full day kindergarten teacher and immersed in emergent literacy for more than 29 years at Maddux Elementary. She was trained in Reading Recovery from The Ohio State University and spent 11 years teaching kindergarten in the mornings and first graders one on one in the afternoons.


Susan has worked in early literacy for over 30 years. She began as a first grade teacher and then became a reading specialist and literacy coach, working with readers in kindergarten through third grade. She is trained in Reading Recovery, both as a teacher and teacher leader. She is currently a faculty member at Miami University in Ohio.


Table of Contents

Foreword by Tanny McGregor
Introduction: Learning from the Start

Chapter 1: Emergent Readers: How They Learn and How to Teach Them
    Fundamentals for Teaching Reading
    Guided Reading: From Fundamentals to Practice
    What is Happening During Literacy Centers?

Chapter 2: Choosing Books Children are Ready to Read 
    The Role of Leveled Books in Emergent Literacy
    How Levels Are Determined
    Selecting Books from Level Bands
    Remember the Purpose of Teaching with Leveled Books 

Chapter 3: Learning Where to Look
    Children Who Don’t Look at Print Yet
    Key Characteristics of Level Pre-A Texts
    Teaching with Teacher-Created Pre-A Text
    Remember the Purpose of Teaching with Pre-A Text
    Example Lesson with Teacher-Created Pre-A Text 

Chapter 4: Learning How to Look at Print
    My Children’s Eyes Are on the Print. Now What?
    Key Characteristics of Levels A and B Texts
    Teaching with Levels A and B Texts
    Remember the Purpose of Teaching with Levels A and B Texts
    Example Lesson with Level A Text 

Chapter 5: Learning How to Monitor and Solve 
    From the Shallow End to the Deep End: A Suggested Transition Lesson Format
    My Children Have Directionality and One-to-One Matching Under Control. Now What?
    Key Characteristics of Level C Texts
    Teaching with Level C Texts
    Remember the Purpose of Teaching with Level C Texts
    Example Lesson with Level C Texts

Chapter 6: Learning How to Integrate Information in Print 
    My Children Are Monitoring and Attempting to Solve. Now What?
    Key Characteristics of Level D Texts
    Teaching with Level D Texts
    Remember the Purpose of Teaching with Level D Texts
    Example Lesson with Level D Texts

Conclusion: It’s Just the Beginning 
Professional Bibliography     


Product Details

Grades: K, 1, 2
Media: 192pp/paper
Year: 2021
Item No: 1194
ISBN: 978-162531-194-8
Publisher: Stenhouse Publishers