Starting in Kindergarten, teacher may send your child home with a book bag containing one or more leveled books for practice. Leveled books are intended for beginning and struggling readers and are used for specific instructional purposes. Leveled collections have an increasing number of high frequency words, and focus on gradually building fluency skills and confidence. Leveled books, “expand at increasing levels of difficulty…attract children’s interest and make them want to read (Fountas and Pinnell, 1999).

Leveled readers make up one component of a comprehensive reading program that should include a wide array of reading materials, including: signs, picture books, magazines, posters, comic books, graphic novels, wordless picture books, online content, songs, poetry, letters, recipes, ingredients, instructions, etc.

Usually, Take-Home books have high-frequency words, content vocabulary, text features, or reading strategies that your child has been working on at school. The teacher wants the child to practice outside school and also may expect a follow-up assignment or a response to the reading.

The level of the Take-Home book is generally determined by the teacher’s assessment of your child’s literacy level, eg,  Marie Clay Observation Survey, Running Record, Diagnostic Reading Assessment (DRA), or a similar tool.

The teacher may include instructions for the family on how to support the child’s reading. (If the child’s teacher does not have a take-home book program, nor provides instructions for reading at home, you can still support the beginner or struggling reader by following the steps below).



SAILS         DRAGONFLIES           Funny Bone


Pearson Canada

  • Fountas & Pinnell LLI
  • Sails & Mainsails

Nelson Education

  • PM Readers
  • Dragonfly Readers
  • National Geographic


  • Literacy Place
  • Everyday Book Box
  • Fast Track

Start by checking inside the back or front cover of the Take-Home book for the reading level. Each publisher has its own method of identifying the level; some sets may identify only the number in the series, others identify the DRA level. See below for a chart that shows the DRA level and the corresponding  number or letter of some popular leveled reader sets.


RL.1.JPG   RL.2

RL4           RL5.JPG


Check inside the front or back cover. Leveled readers for professional use may have:

  • a glossary,
  • list of sight words in the book
  • list of content vocabulary in the book
  • phonological patterns

and possibly

  • the big ideas
  • guiding questions
  • a focus or a reading strategy


glossary.JPG  glossary2.JPG

glossary4.JPG     glossary6.JPG


If the teacher has not provided you with instructions, here are some general guidelines.


  • If possible, find a quiet place to work with your child, away from other family members and distractions.
  • Turn off your phone.
  • Take a minute to breathe and relax into a positive, super-patient mindset.
  • It is important to remember that you are the parent/guardian not the child’s teacher, (even if you are a professional educator) so it’s advisable not to take on a formal or “teachery tone.”
  • Keep any reading sessions with your child light and stress free.
  • This should be an enjoyable one-on-one time with your child.
  • Keep a note pad beside you and write down errors that your child makes during the read.
  • Encourage and give short prompts or the word, if the child gets stuck.
  • Praise the effort once the read is finished


  • Show any annoyance, impatience by tone of voice or body language before, during or after the read
  • Comment or interrupt the child while she is reading
  • Point out, or correct errors during the read (see above)
  • Tell the child “sound it out” if she gets stuck.


Review with your child the vocabulary listed on the back cover – write out the words, if necessary on a separate sheet of paper and check that your child can read and understand those words – reteach or prompt as required

  • Talk about the cover of the book and title  and ask your child to predict what the book is about
  • Picture walk – flip through the pages quickly and ask your child to describe what is happening in the pictures
  • Encourage directionality and voice-print matching, by having your child point to each word as she reads
  • Remind her that when she comes to a word she does not know, guess with clues from the picture and keep reading


  • Occasionally prompt or give the word if she stops or becomes frustrated (if this happens every second word the book is too difficult)
  • Make a note of problem words on your notepad


  • Praise the effort once the read is finished
  • Talk about the story – what did she learn, does the story remind her of anything, make connections to her experiences, other stories, shows or movies, etc.
  • Re-teach words she stumbled on during the read
  • Have the child complete work the teacher has assigned – eg draw a picture and label, or write captions, words or sentences to describe what is happening in the picture.


If your child is a beginning or struggling reader, and her teacher does not have a Take-Home book program, and books that you have bought or borrowed from the library have none of this information, then you will need to do a little more work.

I CAN READ     Nat Geo set



Use the attached Dolch or Fry lists per grade to identify what words your child can read. If the books you have bought or borrowed do not have a vocabulary list on the inside of the back or front cover, you will first need to read and extract from the book the vocabulary, or sight words that need to be pre-taught so that your child can be successful as they read. Once you have done this, follow the guidelines listed above.

GUIDELINES FOR LEVELED BOOKS (Fountas & Pinnell, p.23):

“The best books to support developing literacy:

  • Have natural and literary language patterns with some predictability but not a singsong repetitious pattern
  • Include an increasing number of high-frequency words
  • Have some literary merit
  • Are interesting and engaging for children
  • Integrate an opportunity to notice and use spelling patterns within a quality text.”






Beers, Kylene. (2003). When Kids Can’t Read What Teachers Can Do. Heinemann. Portsmouth, NH.

Fountas, Irene & Gay Su Pinell. (1999). Matching Books to Readers: Using Leveled Books in Guided Reading, K-3. Heinemann. Portsmouth, NH.




When students and teachers have a growth mindset they:

  • Don’t believe or accept that one’s abilities, aptitudes and talents are limited
  • Believe that abilities, aptitudes and talents can be cultivated
  • Welcome and enjoy challenges
  • Persist when they hit obstacles or setbacks and believe in the power of not yet
  • Reflect on their mistakes, change strategies and try again
  • Welcome and learn from feedback and criticism

Carol DweckI’ve always been interested, since graduate school, in why some children wilt and shrink back from challenges and give up in the face of obstacles, while others avidly seek challenges and become even more invested in the face of obstacles.

With a growth mindset, kids don’t necessarily think that there’s no such thing as talent or that everyone is the same, but they believe everyone can develop their abilities through hard work, strategies, and lots of help and mentoring from others.


list attached:GROWTH MINDSET

7 Ways to Develop Literacy Behaviours in Preschool to K

Ditch the Flashcards – Reading is always for meaning

A child’s ability to identify letters(Alphabetic Principle), and decode or word solve (phonological awareness), means they are able to identify, or label a word on a page. While this is a crucial part of learning to read, in itself it is not reading. Reading is the ability to decode and derive meaning from a piece of text.

When parents use flashcards to teach words in isolation, they disconnect the labeling of words from the meaning that words convey when they appear in context. This disconnection sometimes shows up later on when students begin to experience difficulty with comprehension.

Building Literacy Behaviours & Reading Readiness

  1. Develop a love of and enjoyment of books by reading aloud a minimum of 2 times per day. The‘old-school’ storytime, where the adult reads and the child listens quietly, should be reserved for settling a child down before nap or bedtime. This read aloud can involve a longer story that contains complex ideas and language.
  2. Engage your child in a daily read-aloud. At least one daily read aloud (not bed or nap time story time), no matter how brief, should include an activity to build comprehension skills, including predicting, inferring, making connections and retelling. Some children will freely discuss their thoughts and opinions as the adult is reading – encourage this. If the child does not spontaneously engage try the following prompts:
    • Before reading, look at the cover of a new book together and ask the child what s/he predicts the story will be about.
    • Before reading, do a picture walk—look at each picture and ask your child what s/he thinks is happening in the story.
    • During the read, encourage the child to talk about feelings, actions and motivations of the characters.
    • Encourage the child to make personal connections with the story or connect the story to another book, show or movie they have watched
    • After the read, ask your child what they thought about the book
    • Encourage the child to retell or dramatize the story.
  3. When reading to your toddler, occasionally point out to your child that printed letters and words represent the sounds and words of oral language, starting with their own name, Mummy, Daddy, siblings’ names, etc.
  4. Engage with your child in games that build  phonological awareness, eg. isolating the sounds in words ssss-snake, mmm-mummy; clapping out the “beats” she hears in words; rhyming and singing, etc. (see Phonological Awareness)
  5. Encourage your child to “read” a variety of print, including environmental print (e.g., traffic signs, stop signs, street signs, logos, signs in stores and restaurants and on the subway or bus), instructions, and labels on boxes and cans in the grocery store.

“Schedule literacy walks in the community to look for formal and informal ways people communicate with each other.  This encourages children to recognize and read the language that is everywhere.” Dr Jeffrey Wood, Research Monograph #65, Ontario Ministry of Education, April, 2017.

  1. Read beloved books over and over and encourage your child to participate, eg, repetitive books such as the Pigeon series, or Piggie and Elephant series are very popular with Kindergarten teachers and great for this type of activitythe parent reads the words of one character and the child reads the other. Who do you want to be this time Piggy or Gerald?
  2. Let your child “read” to you. Don’t worry if it’s memorized or the child makes up part of the story. Don’t interrupt the read to correct mistakes. This is the beginnings of literacy.

Video: How Kindergartners Show They’re Learning From What They Read. .

Recommended Reading:

Michigan State -Phonological Awareness

New Insights About Letter Learning

Word Boxes Help Children Develop Phonemic Awareness

Supporting Beginning or Struggling Readers at Home

Recommended books:

Pigeon2  Pigeon Series by Mo Willems

Elephant.JPG      Elephant and Piggie series  by Mo Willems

Pete the Cat    Pete the Cat Series by Eric Litwin

David     The David Series by David Shannon












Never buy another magazine when you can get it free through the Toronto Public Library. If you are a Toronto resident or work in Toronto, you can get a TPL library card, create an account  and sign out online magazines through Zinio on the TPL site. There are 47 magazines available.








Getting Boys to Read



What is the Trillium List?

  • The Trillium List is a list of English and French language textbooks approved by the Ontario Ministry of Education for use in Ontario classrooms.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Education’s definition of a textbook includes non-print-format resources too, such as online resources, software, DVDs & CD-ROMs

Trillium List

  • Under the Ontario Education Act, teachers and principals must ensure that Trillium approved textbooks are used in their classrooms
  • This ensures that there is consistent and up-to-date content in school courses
  • Resources on the Trillium List contain 85% of the knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn.
  • Resources are checked by experts to ensure they meets Ontario Ministry of Education standards in such areas as content, accuracy, bias, language level and durability
  • Evaluation and approval of resources are ongoing, and the database is regularly updated as approvals are given

Trillium list website here

Here is an Oise tutorial about how to how check resources on the list:


EQAO finds reading for pleasure boosts test results -Toronto Star

The EQAO, Ontario’s testing body, reports that kids who read for pleasure do better in reading and writing tests.

  1. Even just one hour a week of reading for pleasure boosts test results
  2. About 80 per cent of students who met EQAO reading levels in Grade 3 and Grade 6 and who went on to pass the Grade 10 literacy test, were reading for fun for more than an hour. Of those, 46 per cent who made the grade were reading three hours or more.
  3. Students who met the standard in reading in Grades 3 and 6 and were successful in Grade 10 were two and a half times more likely to be engaged in reading for enjoyment.
  4. What kids read for enjoyment does not matter — anything from novels to graphic novels to poetry — it’s something for enjoyment that makes a difference at school.
  5. There needs to be a more of a focus on the love of reading and the joy of reading

Read the full Toronto Star article here



Graphic Novels Featuring Black Male Characters





Picture Books Featuring a Young Muslim Girl

My favourites:

Muslim girls


List attached

Picture Books Featuring Young Musim Girls