Independent Reading

Running an Independent Reading Time

There are many ways to facilitate independent reading time. Educators can make this time more or less structured depending on their goals. Essentially, Independent Reading is an opportunity for readers to put into practice the strategies they have been taught in other parts of the reading program and to engage with texts in meaningful ways.   What meaningful reading is then, is that it is not done simply to practise a skill, but readers have their own purposes for reading, such as pleasure, to learn more about a topic, or to find out how to do something- these purposes relate to the importance of ensuring that learners can make quality choices of their reading material.

When running this component of your program, consider the following:

  • Select predictable, daily reading time.
  • If your learners are not used to Independent Reading, you might have to start with a short amount of time and gradually work up to a longer period.
  • …use this time to conduct reading conference with learners.
  • Readers usually need to debrief or at least reflect on what they are reading to help with comprehension. You can do this through reading response activities.
  • Allow learners to get comfortable when they read.
  • To cut down on learners who spend all of Independent Reading time browsing for books they never read, consider having them put together their own close-at-hand reading material made up of the following:
  1. My now text. The text I’m reading right now.
  2. My next text(s). The text(s) I want to read next.
  3. My quick-and-easy reads. Some things that are good, quick, easy reading – such as a book of poetry, or magazines with short articles.
  • Having these materials ready means that students do not need to be wandering around the classroom or visiting the library when they could be reading.
  • Consider using reader response journals or logs for learners to document their reading.


For additional ideas to support independent reading time, check out the following resources:

Daily 5 Book


The Daily Five, by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser





 Chapter 22, Maximizing Independent Reading from Teaching for Comprehension and Fluency, by Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell





Constructing Meaning: Teaching the Language Arts K-8 by Joyce Bainbridge and Rachel Heydon

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