Tips for Successful Independent Reading 

Tips for Successful Independent Reading 

Enjoy these wonderful tips on gaining success in Independent Reading sessions adapted from the work of accomplished educator, Diane Snowball.

  • Regular sustained Independent Reading sessions, ideally 15-30 minutes (longer for older students), improve students’ reading skills.
  • Access to various texts at school and home is crucial, organised libraries facilitate this.
  • Students should have multiple reading materials available to choose from.
  • Silent reading is beneficial, but occasional reading aloud or thinking aloud aids comprehension.
  • Students should engage in ‘quiet Independent Reading time’ with opportunities for discussion.
  • Teaching self-selection of ‘just-right’ materials fosters independence and value in reading.
  • Rereading texts benefits beginners and ESL students, modelling helps.
  • Independent Reading follows demonstration or explicit teaching, part of primary school reading block.
  • Writing conferences complement reading conferences to understand students’ literacy.
  • Sharing sessions at the end of reading blocks enhance understanding and foster book clubs.
  • Reading and writing development are linked, writing can follow up on reading, not limited to book reports.
  • Writing may be inspired by Independent Reading, such as research or modelling after mentor texts or genres.

‘Just Right’ books

  • Independent Reading means reading with 95%+ accuracy and understanding.
  • Even with lower accuracy, understanding is key.
  • Choose ‘just right’ texts for Independent Reading to grasp content easily.
  • Factors affecting comprehension:
    • Knowledge of the topic.    
    • Vocabulary understanding.    
    • Reader’s fluency and comprehension strategies.    
    • Author’s style and genre familiarity.    
    • Layout, visuals, text length, and purpose.
  • Teach students to judge difficulty using these factors, not just by unknown words.
  • Understanding grows as one reads further, so don’t dismiss a text too quickly.
  • Teach text difficulty throughout school years via modelling and discussion in Shared Reading.
  • Consider personal experiences’ impact on text difficulty for different people.

Questions about reading easy and challenging texts

  • Students should read both easy and challenging materials with purpose.
  • Reading selections depend on time, mood, and personal goals.
  • Enjoying easy reading is beneficial.
  • Trying challenging texts boosts vocabulary and interest.
  • Rereading helps improve fluency and comprehension.
  • Comprehension often improves with multiple readings.
  • Knowing when unknown vocabulary affects understanding is crucial.
  • Personal interest in a topic, author, or genre can motivate tackling more challenging texts.

Tips for beginning readers or ELL students

Beginning readers and ELL students can develop English language concepts and word knowledge with these activities:

  • Matching sentence strips to full text or sequencing them.
  • Matching words to a sentence strip and reading it.
  • Reading class poems and rhymes.
  • Reading print in the classroom.
  • Rereading enlarged texts from Shared Reading.


  • PDF: Independent Reading – PDF Reading 
  • PDF: Importance of Independent Reading: Statements from Research – PDF Reading
  • PODCAST: The Value of Independent Reading – Podcast


  • Reading by yourself every day for a little while, like 15 to 30 minutes (a bit longer for older kids), helps you get better at reading.
  • Having lots of different books at school and home is important. When books are in neat places, it’s easier to find them.
  • You should have many books to pick from.
  • Reading quietly is good, but sometimes reading out loud or talking about what you read helps you understand better.
  • Spending time reading quietly with a chance to talk about what you read is called ‘quiet Independent Reading time.’
  • Learning to choose the right books for you makes you better at reading on your own.
  • Reading the same books again is helpful, especially if you’re just starting or learning English. Watching someone read can also help you.
  • After teachers show or explain something in class, you’ll get to read by yourself. It’s part of the time we spend learning to read in school.
  • Talking about writing and reading together helps teachers understand how good you are at reading.
  • At the end of reading time, we share what we learned or liked. It’s fun and helps us find books we might enjoy together.
  • Learning to read and write go together. Sometimes, after reading, we do writing related to what we read. It’s not just about writing book reports!
  • Sometimes, reading can give us ideas for writing. We might write about what we learned or pretend to be like the authors we read.

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