Professional Development

September 12, 2020

4 Ways to Use Emergent Readers in the Classroom

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What do you think of when you think of emergent readers? Do you think of a bonus activity to just send home for students to have? An inside-recess coloring activity? Maybe even something you don’t have time for? Friends, if you fall into any of these categories, or are just unsure of how to use emergent readers, this post is for you!

Emergent readers have important roles in the primary classroom, especially the kindergarten and first grade classrooms. They make integrating science and social studies into literacy easy. These emergent books give you ways to practice specific phonics, spelling, and syntax rules. When used properly, they can have a powerful impact on your literacy instruction.

What is an Emergent Reader?

Emergent reader mini-books are books that support students who are emerging as readers. Fountas and Pinnell describe students are who emergent readers as students that “use pictures to support meaning and rely on language as a strong cueing system” (Guided Reading).

Emergent reader books have similar characteristics to support these readers:

  • repetitive and predictable text
  • engaging illustrations
  • common high frequency words

Ways to Use Emergent Readers in the Classroom

There are so many ways to use emergent readers in the primary classroom. You can always use them in guided reading if you know the level of the book. Outside of guided reading, there are a few ways you can use them to benefit your students.

Morning Work Activity

Have the printed books out and ready for students. For morning work, they can read the book three times quietly to themselves. Then, have them circle sight words and punctuation marks. Finally, let them color the book.

Literacy Stations

Another way to use emergent readers is during literacy stations. If you have a “Book Making” or “Buddy Reading” station, you can easily work them into those.

For the Book Making station, students would follow the same three steps as in morning work:

  1. Read the book three times quietly to yourself.
  2. Circle sight words and punctuation marks.
  3. Color the book.

For Buddy Reading, students can take turns reading their emergent readers to each other in a whisper voice.

Upper-Grade Reading Buddies

If you partner with an upper-grade class, let students read their buddy some of their emergent readers. Your students will get to practice reading with a purpose and fluency. Additionally, they’ll feel confident reading a familiar text that they enjoy.

Early Finishers

Finally, another way to use these types of books in the classroom is as an early finisher activity. You can make a tub labeled “Early Finishers” and place a class set in the basket. Throughout the week, if a student finishes early, they can get the new book for the week and follow the same three steps that I mentioned before. At the end of the week, give a book to students who have not received a copy of the book to put in their book boxes and work on later.

During the school year, I had students store their emergent readers in their book boxes. Then students will have easy access to reread books they are familiar with.

At the end of the year, you can put them all in a gallon zip-top bag and send them home with students. This is a great resource for students to have at home to practice reading over the summer. You can include them in their summer buckets or with a simple note for parents on what to do with them.

Come and grab a FREE emergent reader that’s perfect for back to school in my TpT store HERE. You can print it for your students in your classroom or email it for students to do at home.

Happy Teaching,


Free Guided Reading Resource Cards

Want to know exactly what to teach at each guided reading level? Grab your FREE Guided Reading Resource Cards.

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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