Reading Stamina and Actual Reading

Have you read a book that makes you rethink your philosophy as a teacher?  Or reaffirm it?  Well, this book is challenging me as a professional and the decisions I make as a teacher of readers.  Allington suggests that "1 1/2 hours of actual reading" would have substantial gains for our struggling readers.  What would this look like?  Well, "research does not provide clear evidence that one type of reading is better than another.  In other words, increasing the reading volume of oral or silent or choral or paired read or almost any combination of these, has been shown to enhance achievement."

Graphics by Hoot and Crow
He argues that much of that 90 minute of reading time is spent on activities that are related to reading.  And that our most struggling students, do little, if any reading. I must admit, that I do not provide enough time of actual reading even though I teach a full day kindergarten my students average anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour of reading throughout the day.  Like the research stated, my students who read more are my "best readers." My struggling readers are usually "pulled" from my classroom during Independent Reading and have not had enough practice building reading stamina.  My goal/hope is to make all my students the "best readers."

Here are my plans:
I will "bless" more books at all levels to help motivate my students to read them.

I plan to meet daily with my struggling readers and watch them read.  I want to cheer them on as they build stamina.

I will provide them texts that they can read.  I want them reading a lot! So, they will need lots of texts to keep them on task.

As a classroom community, we will focus on building reading stamina.   We will make a goal.  If we meet it, we will be rewarded in some way that will encourage them to continue reading.

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I plan to increase the time that of actual reading.  I am going to modify my Daily 5 choices to include only reading tasks; buddy reading, listening center, independent reading.  We will do word study centers at another time.

Lastly, I want us to talk more about the books we read.  By us, I really mean, my students.  I need to stop some of the talking and listen.  This will be hard but so worth it.    

This has led me to wonder.  How much time does your class spend on actual reading? Please share.  I would love for you to join me in this discussion.

Happy Teaching and Learning!


  1. I understand the point that the author is making, but would caution you to recognize that reading is more than the decoding of words (the part that we spend so much time teaching in the early years). When looking at 'research' one must be cognizant of the fact that the researcher was posing only question and that the researcher then writes about the results related to the findings from posing that question. When looking at the Daily Five program as created by The Sisters, please recognize that they looked at a variety of research and then took what many researchers were saying to create a manner to touch on many aspects of learning the language that we use daily. The reality is that in our school day, we don't have the time to do all that the 'research' tells us works. We don't have the students for 12 hours a day! How in the time that we have could we find 90 minutes in a school day for students to be engaged in specifically reading tasks?

  2. I am glad I found the link to this thread. I was focused on increasing my students' reading stamina this year as a result of reading Richard Allington's books. I struggle with what to take out - what to leave in - what to add, as all teachers do. I currently teach 1st grade (3rd year) and previously taught kindergarten (9 years). My goal this year was to get my struggling readers reading more. This is always a challenge because we need to find texts that are engaging, repetitive, and "just right." So basically the "five" books in a book box does not give them enough books to build stamina as most finish them in five minutes. So this year, I added lots of songs, books from songs, and nonfiction level A-D books. I put song books in the listening center, in book boxes, on the computer and read any books that I could that went to a song. This gave my nonreaders more choices for supported text. I put copies of the songs in their word work stations to play different games and "what do you notice" activities. But the "life-changing" event came when I added an extra block of "read to self" time followed by a "read to someone" time. I started out slowly and my 1st graders are now up to 45 minutes (in addition to their regular 90 minute reader's workshop/guided reading time. And during this additional time, I pull readers for one-on-one support. I found that 5 minutes of dedicated one-on-one time allows me to read with 8 extra children each day. What I have found is that my children are "READERS" this year. I only have one that is on a reading plan, and I see him moving off by next year. The others are reading on grade level and most are well above. So I am a big fan of increased reading time. What really helped get my struggling readers reading is to pair them with "readers" during "read to someone." They spend the last 10 minutes of the extra block reading to a friend. I bought nap mats for them to lay on while they read, but most use them as reading tents for added privacy and space. So I am really excited about next year to see if my "mini-action-research" success continues with my new class next year. And for the kindergarten teachers, I used my free choice center time in kindergarten to pull children one-on-one for extra reading. Thanks for starting this thread. Can't wait to hear what others are doing.

    Kathy Griffin

  3. We read from 8:00-9:15. Students do Read to Self, Read to Someone, or Write about Reading, while I meet with groups or individuals. We also have intervention/extension from 9:30-10:00M-Th.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  4. Thanks for posting this today.

    I definitely do not have my kids doing enough "actual reading." My reading block is from 8:30 to 9:30, and I meet with one grade for 30 minutes while the other grade is supposed to be reading or working on word study computer games. However, I know they are hardly ever really reading... sigh. I for sure need to rethink my schedule next year to fit more of this in!!

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  5. The biggest change I made 3 years ago was getting a subscription to Raz-Kids - the online reading/listening/comprehension program offered by "". After teaching my kindergartners how to use the program (in the computer lab 2 times), they now use laptops in our room DAILY for a 15 minute station rotation. They are ENGAGED and motivated! They also have access to it at home. To help pay for the $90/year fee, I asked parents for a $3 donation and told them they would have access all summer long AND during the 1st semester of first grade. (Where else can you get this much bang for your 3 bucks?) Fifteen parents paid ($45) and so I only have to use $45 from our Parent Group. This is a focused effort - I love it!

    ---They have a Listening Station daily. I notice that 90% of the kids are following the text. That station is between 12-15 min depending on the book.

    ---Guided Reading with me is 12-15 min with EVERY child DAILY.
    ---Add on STAR-FALL at the Computer Station and that's another 12-15 minutes.
    ---Read to Self table with baskets of books geared to their level. Each Gd Rdg group is named by a color and their basket is the same color. The books in each basket are at independent level. The operate this station well; always seem eager to seek out a new book they can read.

    So, adding up these 5 stations gives 60-75 minutes of READING! (Probably closer to 60 min due to a certain amount of 'settling in' they go through.) Add to that what they do at the Writing Station or at Word Work Stations - yeah, they ARE reading a lot!

    ArdisK- I teach a full day kdg. With transitions between stations, my GrRdg/Stations Block is 90 minutes.

  6. Cool posters! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love the plan you outlined. I have spent a lot of time reading about teaching reading lately and everything keeps going back to how important it is to have kids actually reading during the day. I have rethought my plans for the classroom in the fall as well. I was doing literacy centers but now I am switching over to the daily five. I am also looking for all of the pockets of time I have during the day that I can turn into reading time. I am also going to change the format I use for guided reading. I watched Everything's Primary with Kimberly from Funky First Grade Fun to learn how to manage my guided reading group so that the kids are reading the entire time. I also just read the book The Book Whisperer. Lots of ideas there too. Thanks for your post!

    Chalk Talk


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