In order to develop comprehension it is important to select texts where students are able to make connections between what they are reading and their prior knowledge. It is also important that the text is matched to the readers interests. Consider the following:
How familiar are the students' to the content of the text?
What is the students' prior knowledge?
What is the structure of the text?
Will the text be of interest to the students?
Is the vocabulary and complexity appropriate for the students?
Is the length of the text appropriate for the activity?
Fortunately with the swing towards literature in the Australian National English Curriculum there are a online resources being established for the purpose of levelling literature. Lexiles are graded numbers given to books so that teachers can easily select texts appropriate for their grade level. Check out http://www.lexile.com/ !
Teachers need to take care when selecting texts for their students. I followed these guidelines and came across a fantastic book called 'Inside a Barn In the Country' by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. It met all the criteria that was suggested by Fellowes and Oakley (2010) and it was relevant to the students own farm like animals on their properties. In one word: SUCCESS!
Fellowes, J. & Oakley, G. (2010). Language, literacy and early childhood education. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press
Fountas, I. C. & Pinnell, G. S. (1996). Guided reading: Good first teaching for all children. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann
Stoove, T. (2007). Levelling the reader, levelling the book. Synergy, 5(1), 32-34.
The identification of literature as one of the key elements to the National English Curriculum highlights the importance literature has to play in the development of language. With a shift to a more focused approach to literature in the primary setting emphasises its role in the development of students’ ability to think, reason and grow in logical and ethical understandings and applications (Fellowes and Oakley).
“...literature that appeals to the interests, needs and reading preferences of children and captivates children as its major audience. Children’s literature may be fictional, poetic or factual, or a combination of all of these.”