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Online Professional Learning and
Technical Assistance for
21st Century Community Learning Centers

How’s My Reading?

Using what you’ve learned so far, see if you can figure out ways to help the readers described in the following scenarios. Use this exercise to help you think about what kinds of things you should be looking for in order to help a student become a better reader in your program. As a 21st CCLC staff member, you have the power to really make a difference in a young reader’s life.

Explore the profiles below for some ideas to help strengthen reading skills. 


Markel is a happy and energetic kindergartner who loves playing outside and listening to his favorite stories over and over. In the middle of his kindergarten year, Markel can only name a few letters of the alphabet and matches few letter names to the correct letter sounds. When doing rhyming activities, he loves to call out words, but primarily guesses and cannot identify when two words rhyme or produce a word that rhymes with another word. 

Markel has trouble identifying if two words begin or end with the same sound, and when given word parts, he has trouble putting them together to make a whole word. Markel doesn't yet understand that words are made up of individual sounds, so he struggles in activities when the teacher asks him to break down a word into its sound parts.


Suzanne is a sweet, but quiet second grader. She enjoys playing dress-up and is always involved in whatever arts and craft project is being done. She enjoys quietly looking through picture books, but does not like reading. Suzanne can match most, but not all, letter names to letter sounds. When looking at a word, she can identify most letter sounds, but it takes her time and effort to retrieve the sounds.

She can blend three- and four-sound words, but does not read the words automatically, even when the same word comes up again and again. With longer words, she often begins decoding the first sound or sounds of the word, but then guesses at the rest. When she misreads a word, she rarely notices and self-corrects, as she is focused on figuring out the next word in the text. She knows the most basic sight words, but is not automatic past the preprimer level.


Dayonne is a serious and focused learner. He enjoys learning about how things work and always asks the teacher to read nonfiction books. When he tries to read the books on his own, he has to stop and sound out many of the words and is easily frustrated by the task.

Dayonne often mumbles when asked to read out loud and confuses sight words such as were and where, what and want, and there and here. With multisyllabic words, he begins to sound out the first sound or sounds, but then either guesses at the rest of the word or gives up and moves on to the next word in the text. He reads very slowly in a word-by-word manner. More often than not, he quickly abandons reading tasks.


Marisol loves socializing with her friends. She is a leader and can often be found directing the activities or games in which kids are involved. When asked to join a literacy activity, Marisol often replies “I hate reading. It’s boring and stupid.”

Marisol sounds like a fluent reader: She knows most of the words automatically and reads at an appropriate rate with acceptable intonation. However, when she comes across a word she doesn’t know, she has few strategies at her disposal for figuring out the word. When asked questions about what she has read, Marisol has difficulty answering anything but the most literal questions.


Santiago is a sports star and can always be found out on the field playing something. As a reader, he has good word recognition skills and appears to understand what he is reading, at least on a surface level. However, he resists reading activities, saying he can’t find anything interesting to read.

Regardless of the type of text, Santiago approaches all reading activities in the same manner. His goal is to “get through” the task as quickly as possible. In fact, when he chooses to do his homework, he typically reads the questions he has to answer and then looks for information from the text to pluck out rather than read the text and then try and answer the questions. He often has difficulty with this because he doesn’t understand the text structures enough to know how to efficiently find the information in the text or put together ideas from different sections of the text.


Cassandra is a sullen, defensive teenager. She can often be found sitting by herself, drawing intricate designs in her sketchbook. She rarely does homework and never chooses to engage in literacy activities.

When made to join the book club, she does not participate in group discussions and rarely offers an opinion or asks questions. When prodded to participate, she will either reply “I agree with what he said” or simply state “I don’t know.” When asked about reading, she says she “hates to read” and describes herself as “stupid.” Previous reports indicate that in elementary school Cassandra was reading “on level,” but began to disengage in learning activities in middle school.

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