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Teaching Strategies: Selecting Instructional Materials

Janelle Cox

One of the many jobs teachers have is selecting instructional materials that will fit each students’ reading performance. Teachers have a myriad of materials available for their teaching strategies, including basal readers, trade books, chapter books, poetry, and technological materials, just to name a few. It is essential that teachers find a text that fits the reader as well as advances his or her strengths. The key is to find materials that match the reader. Here we will take a look at some of the basic types of materials that can be selected.

Teaching Strategies Using Chapter Books

Chapter books tell stories that captivate the reader’s imagination. Unfortunately, they do not come with a teacher’s manual, but sometimes the publisher will indicate the reading level. Chapter books are often used in discussion groups so that students can share their experiences. This helps students to create a shared understanding of the world.

Teaching Strategies Using Basal Readers

Basal readers are stories that are arranged by grade level and come with an instruction manual and workbooks for the students. Some basal readers even include excerpts from classic literature that are designed for that specific grade level. One advantage of using basal readers is that the difficulty level of the story has already been calculated for you. Using a basal reader at the level of your students is a great way to help you identify a text that will fit each reader.

Predictable Books

Predictable books use colorful illustrations and repeated language patterns to draw students in to read time and time again. This reader-based approach uses rhythm and rhyme to hook students and is usually a staple in every elementary classroom.

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Trade Books

Picture trade books are widely used among classrooms and are typically read aloud to students. It’s hard to estimate the reading level of these books because the vocabulary and concepts vary. However, they can be used with reading instruction to demonstrate a mini-lesson, used an introduction, or as an extension activity.

Poetry Books

Much like predictable books, poetry books have rhythm and rhyme, which help invite students to read them time and time again. Poems can be used to begin a lesson, or they can be read orally. A great way to start off a lesson is to read a poem orally with your class. Shel Silverstein is a great poet who brings humor to his poems which students tend to love.

High-Interest, Low-Readability Books

These books are designed for readers who are reading below grade level. They are meant to appeal to the student ,but are written at an easier level to help improve their fluency and literacy. A text-based approach is the driving force in these types of books to improve comprehension. The topics of these books can range from adventure to sports, there is something for everyone.


Textbooks are designed for a certain grade level, depending upon their topic. They contain specific information that sometimes can make comprehension difficult. Students usually need prior knowledge or an overview before really understanding the content. Some publishers are now putting an overview section into the begging of each chapter of their textbooks for this reason.

Technological Materials

Most teachers have access to a variety of technological materials, such as computers, tablets, computer programs, the Internet, and so on. Audio books enable students to listen and read along, furthering their comprehension. Computer programs allow students to read predictable books on the computer, as well as help students develop their writing skills. Tablets can bring books to life by their interactive ability. Videos can offer students yet another way to understand a story. Technological materials are motivational and provide yet another way for students to develop their reading and writing skills.

Teachers need to make sure that the materials that they choose align with the needs and strengths of their students. Other things to consider when selecting materials are student interest, student choice, length of book, background knowledge, and book series. Be sure to select material that will allow the student to construct meaning while also using their strengths.

What reading materials do you use in your classroom? Is there any that I missed that you absolutely love? Please share with us in the comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a master's of science in education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the elementary education expert for, as well as a contributing writer to and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators, or visit her website at Empoweringk6educators.

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