Authentic Literature: Henry and Mudge

Today, a teacher asked me, “When do you do the reading? When do you tie in books?”


This is a great question. We use the SMARTER Intervention curriculum - which emphasizes the five essential elements of literacy instruction (phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension) in every single lesson. However, this work is in the word, phrase and sentence level. So, this teacher was naturally wondering, “When do I bring in the texts for my students?”

We are big advocates of sharing authentic literature with our readers. We want to point out that authentic literature is different from decodable texts. While decodable texts have an important role in helping our emerging readers learn how to read, they vary greatly from an authentic piece of literature.

You may have a group of students in your classroom who aren’t at the sentence or text level yet with their reading. You can still share authentic literature with them through read aloud, partner reading, or by sharing excerpts from a text.

Students gain so much from experiencing stories in terms of skills, but this exposure also nurtures a love of reading. This, in my opinion, is the greatest gift you can give a child.

If you have a group that is not ready to approach a text on their own, you can scaffold this learning by selecting one sentence from the text to share. This may be a sentence that models great word choice, evokes an emotional response, or is just a solid model of a well written sentence. Students can read, mimic, and enjoy this excerpt and this can be a spring board for skill work in your instruction.

This same idea can be expanded to extracting a paragraph or passage from a text and having students work with just that portion of that book. You can build skills from this passage or use it to model a writing style.

The beauty in this is it helps our struggling readers see themselves as readers. This gives them the opportunity to interact with some of the same texts their peers are reading or have talked about. Perhaps this exposure will ignite an interest with your student and move them to check out the book on their own after getting a small taste of the story?

When using authentic literature, it is important to measure your students’ comprehension and understanding of the text. The ultimate goal of reading is to make meaning from text, and you want to keep a pulse on this as your student is reading in texts. We have developed a comprehension activity that can follow a reading of Henry and Mudge – The First Book. This activity develops a variety of different comprehension strategies so that you can hone in on which areas need to be targets for growth.

Depending on your student’s ability to approach this text independently, you can read this to your student, allow them to ear-read this story here, or support them as they read the text out loud to you.

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Kelly HooverComment