Professional Development

April 8, 2017

Top 7 Books for Balanced Literacy

We all know the drill. We often times are sent to PD sessions that don’t keep our attention or that don’t quite meet our needs.  This is why, as teachers, most of us are readers. We are life-long learners. We take our learning into our own hands. We own it! Often times with balanced literacy, people tell me that it sounds wonderful, but they don’t know how to do it in their classroom. They see it in a second grade classroom, but not kinder. Or they see it in kinder, but not 1st. Let’s own our learning! Let’s be self-learners! Here are my favorite books for balanced literacy professional development.

If you are looking to dig your feet into balanced literacy, these books are for you! They are easy reads, filled with great info, and helped me so much!
Amazon affiliate links are used below.

Interactive Read Aloud

This time of day is so valuable to us as I model how to think as good readers think. I shared more about the power of interactive read alouds HERE. Some of my favorite books have everything from the WHY behind interactive read alouds to mini-lesson ideas for multiple grade levels.  If you are looking for some great interactive read aloud resources, these are must-haves!

Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller- This book was the first professional development book I ever read that discussed teaching comprehension in the primary grades in such a simple manner. Debbie discusses the reader’s workshop model and each reading strategy. She helps you kick everything off in depth!

Strategies that Work by Stephanie Harvey- I’m not sure I have seen a more popular book for interactive read aloud than this. After reading it, I understand why. It’s an easy read, Stephanie spends a decent amount of time teaching us the why behind it all, and then provides practical information for each reading strategy.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease- I learned about this book at a conference last fall and immediately ran out to buy it. I sat and read the first 30 pages the first day–it was that good! You will not find mini-lessons in this book, rather you will dig deeper into the importance of interactive read alouds, the dos and don’ts of read alouds, and even the stages of read alouds.

Shared Reading

Shared reading was something that I didn’t leave college with a solid understanding of.  Honestly, it wasn’t until I was thrown into kindergarten during October of my first year teaching did I begin to grasp the power and beauty of shared reading lessons.  That year I began to value this time of our day and as I moved back to first grade, I took it with me! I knew my kids still needed it!

This book is great for teachers as they prep and plan for shared reading in their kindergarten and first grade classrooms!

Read It Again!: Revisiting Shared Reading by Brenda Parkes-This book was passed on to me by a dear friend who writes curriculum in a school district. I had no clue I would love it so much until I learned how much I loved shared reading.  It shows you the importance of this time in your balanced literacy schedule, what it’s like in action, and even walks you through choosing resources to use.

Guided Reading

And now for the heart and soul of my reading block, guided reading. Goodness, I love this part of our day and so do my little learners. It never fails that at the end of the year they say, “Mrs. Richardson, I love reading at your table!” It makes my heart pitter-patter. With that being said, I didn’t just get to where I am with guided reading on my own. I had the help of great mentor teachers my first few years of teaching.  I also had the help of these wonderful guided reading professional development books.

If you are looking to improve your guided reading skills, these books are must-haves! They share everything from what each reading level looks like to even setting up for the time!

Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell- This was my guided reading bible for years! It was the book that taught me the basics. It taught me why it was important and what it looked like at every single level.

The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson- Jan is a little guru herself! She breaks things down so simply, changes up things a bit from Fountas and Pinnell, and provides some great templates!

An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement by Marie M. Clay- This book help me get a baseline check for my students at the beginning of the year. While it doesn’t help me identify a guided reading level, what it does is assess students concepts about print, their word knowledge, and their reading readiness. It’s a must-have!

What are your favorite professional development books? Drop a comment to let us know so that we can work on our summer reading list!

If you are looking to dig your feet into balanced literacy, these books are for you! They are easy reads, filled with great info, and helped me so much! These books for balanced literacy are must-haves!

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Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? This FREE guide is packed with engaging ideas to help them grow!

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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5 Responses

  1. I am so glade to know all these boo;s about the balanced literacy , and I will start to read it from now.
    Thank you & Regards

  2. The Read Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie. The book is focused on what parents can do to create a reading culture in their home, but I think the information is still valuable for teachers who are looking to help children fall in love with books. When I was a teacher, I know I was always looking for tips/tricks/recommendations for parents to share with them how to make reading a part of their lives instead of just another school assignment. This book helps do that.

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